The Last Days

The Last Days is a documentary, directed by James Moll and produced by June Beallor and Kenneth Lipper in 1998. Steven Spielberg was one of the executive producers, in his role as founder of the Shoah Foundation. The film tells the stories of five Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, focusing on the last year of World War II. The film focuses on the horrors of life in the Nazi concentration camps, but also stresses the optimism and desire to survive of the survivors.[1][2]

The Last Days
The Last Days.jpg
Directed byJames Moll
Produced byJune Beallor
Kenneth Lipper
Music byHans Zimmer
Distributed byOctober Films
Release date
  • October 23, 1998 (1998-10-23) (Los Angeles)
  • February 5, 1999 (1999-02-05) (U.S. limited)
  • July 15, 1999 (1999-07-15) (Australia)
  • September 9, 1999 (1999-09-09) (Hungary)
  • October 8, 1999 (1999-10-08) (UK)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguagesEnglish, German and Hungarian

The film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[1][3] It was remastered and scheduled for wider release in 2021 by Netflix.[1]


The Last Days was first released in 1998. It was produced by June Beallor, Kenneth Lipper, Steven Spielberg, and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. The film included archival footage, photographs, and documents, as well as interviews with survivors of the Shoah. The Last Days was remastered and released worldwide on Netflix on May 19, 2021.

Holocaust survivors Bill Basch, Irene Zisblatt, Renée Firestone, Alice Lok Cahana, Tom Lantos, Dario Gabbai, and Randolph Braham are featured in the film.[1] Former Representative Lantos (D-CA) was the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the United States Congress.[4][5] He was saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who hid Lantos in Budapest.[4]

The film also includes interviews with U.S. army veterans Paul Parks and Katsugo Miho, G.I.'s who helped liberate Dachau concentration camp. Former SS doctor Hans Münch, acquitted of war crimes at the Nuremberg trials, was interviewed about his experiences at Auschwitz concentration camp.[2][4]

Critical responseEdit

The Last Days received positive reviews from film critics. It holds a 92% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 24 reviews.[6] On Metacritic, the film holds a 85% approval, based on 25 critics.[7]

According to Radheyan Simonpillai for The Guardian, "The film’s thesis is that the Nazis were so fueled by hatred that they would sacrifice their position in the war in order to carry out the genocide, deporting 438,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz within a six-week period."[1] Roger Ebert wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times that the film "focuses on the last year of the war, when Adolf Hitler, already defeated and with his resources running out, revealed the depth of his racial hatred by diverting men and supplies to the task of exterminating Hungary's Jews."[8]

John Leonard wrote for New York Magazine, "It is a story told by five survivors of that fast-forward genocide, all of them naturalized American citizens, who return to the cities and villages from which they were seized, and to the camps to which they were committed."[4] Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, former film critic for the San Francisco Examiner, wrote for Common Sense Media, "The horrors described by survivors of the death camps, the soldiers who liberated them, and historians, as well as photographs and archival footage, make this important and educational but best suited to teens and older."[9] Marc Savlov for The Austin Chronicle wrote, "Moll's film is a far cry from the elegiac poetry of, say, Night and Fog; it's a document more than an examination, and its power of record is inarguable and incorruptible."[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Simonpillai, Radheyan (2021-05-18). "'There is still so much hatred': looking back on Holocaust documentary The Last Days". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  2. ^ a b c Savlov, Marc (1999-03-05). "The Last Days". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  3. ^ "New York Times • The Last Days". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2008-11-22.
  4. ^ a b c d Leonard, John (2000-05-29). "Speak, Memory". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  5. ^ Gorondi, Pablo (2018-02-01). "Statue of late Rep. Tom Lantos unveiled in Hungary". The Mercury News. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  6. ^ "The Last Days". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  7. ^ "The Last Days". Metacritic. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (1999-02-12). "Reviews: The Last Days". Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  9. ^ Shulgasser-Parker, Barbara (2021-05-26). "The Last Days". Common Sense Media. Retrieved 2021-06-25.

External linksEdit