A harrowing story of quite unprecedented inhumanity fuelled by an insane political ideology would unfold before the eyes of the world. As stories come, they don't come more compelling than this. Who was Eichmann? How could this man have engineered the inhumanity of the Nazi death camps? Was the man devoid of conscience?
Unfortunately we never found out. The Eichmann Show chose as its medium, not the character of Eichmann, nor Israel's long and protracted quest to finally bring this man to justice - a task which involved kidnappiing the Nazi from his South American lair. Dramatic stuff. Could have made a great film.
Instead, this production chose to focus on the producer and director charged with filming the trial. Talk about an open goal...
After much debate the powers that be had authorised the TV cameras to follow the trial live on the small screen. What followed was quite a lot of stuff about camera shots and angles as Producer (Martin Freeman) and Director (Anthony Lapglia) debate the aethetics involved in making an interesting TV programme. Fascinating stuff, especially if you happen to be an aspiring film director. And if you aren't ...?
At one point they had a tiff about whether to focus on Eichmann or the witnesses. The Director wanted a close up on the Nazi, the producer did not. You could cut the tension with a knife.
The problem with The Eichmann Show was the lack of any real story and hence lack of any real suspense. The Producer received a threatening note warning him not to produce the trial, but it was soon forgotten. The director's wife and son arrived, but melted away just as quickly. Nazism and fascism raised their ugly heads briefly. The film crew listened in horror to survivor testimonies. Plenty of different strands but no real sense of a compelling story here. It soon became rather hollow, bordering on tedious.
Something was needed to pep this up. The production sought refuge in ever increasing archive death camp and trial footage. We then had the dubious pleasure of watching the producers watching the witnesses as the film struggled to sustain its rather flimsy premise.
Could we not have just cut out the middle men? By this stage what little drama there had been had evaporated away. With nothing better to do, the film chose to switch its focus more and more on the actual trial itself. It was an awkward change of perspective and I'm afraid it all came far too late to rescue a production that had suddenly and inexplicably morphed into pure documentary.
"We did it," said Producer to Director at the end. Did what? One can only speculate that they were referring to the filming of the trial.
All told it was a rather underwhelming affair. If it hadn't been for that disagreement over close up and long shots, then there would have been even less dramatic tension - if that was at all possible. There was a great story to be told here no doubt. It just wasn't this one.
Meanwhile Adolf Eichmann passed serenly by, unnoticed. For we, the viewers, happened to be watching an entirely different shot altogether...