The Protocols of Zion 2005 Documentary
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The Protocols of Zion is a 2005 documentary film by Jewish filmmaker Marc Levin about a resurgence of antisemitism in the United States in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Appearing on screen along with his subjects, Levin engages in a free-for-all dialogue with Arab Americans, Black nationalists, evangelists, White nationalists, Kabbalist rabbis, Holocaust survivors, and Frank Weltner, the founder of the Jew Watch web site.
Levin's film draws its inspiration from an encounter he had in a New York taxi not long after 9/11, in which his driver, an Egyptian immigrant, made the claim that the Jews had been warned not to go to work at the World Trade Center on the day of the attack. He then said that "it's all written in the book," referring to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a 1903 book purporting to disclose the Jews' master plan to rule the world. Discredited as a hoax by The Times of London in 1921, The Protocols provided a crucial influence on Hitler's world views, and had fueled hatred, violence, and ultimately genocide attempts through the first half of the twentieth century. Ads for the film show two stacks of books, visibly entitled Protocols of Zion, with smoke billowing out of the top portion of the left-hand stack. This looks much like actual pictures of the World Trade Center as the fire raged through it. The movie was made in 2005, four years after the WTC attack.
TOMATOMETER CRITICS 68% | AUDIENCE 50%
Rating: R (for language, some disturbing content and brief nudity.)
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By: Marc Levin
In Theaters: Oct 21, 2005 Limited
On Disc/Streaming: Jul 11, 2006
Runtime: 90 minutes
April 21, 2006 | Rating: 3/4
Jeff Shannon Seattle Times Top Critic
"Protocols of Zion": How century-old book spread lies, fear, hatred
By Jeff Shannon
Special to The Seattle Times
Did you know that no Jews were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center because Jews were warned not to go to work that day?
This is a virulent lie, of course, but it spreads like crabgrass in our post-Sept. 11 world of fear and suspicion.
"Protocols of Zion," a documentary directed by Marc Levin. 93 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains profanity, brief violence, disturbing newsreel images). Northwest Film Forum. The screening at 7 p.m. Thursday will be followed by a panel discussion focusing on anti-Semitism and other issues addressed in the film.
Its origins can be found in a century-old book that was proved to be a forgery in 1921. When the secret police of czarist Russia published "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a slim volume (still available from many major booksellers) professing to reveal a Jewish master plan to rule the world, they unleashed a monster that refuses to die. In the wake of Sept. 11, its anti-Semitic message is being accepted as fact by anyone predisposed to believe it.
New York-based filmmaker Marc Levin (best known for his 1998 poetry-in-prison drama "Slam") hadn't heard the lie until it was repeated to him by an Egyptian taxi driver. Now, in "Protocols of Zion" (playing this week at Northwest Film Forum and April 24 on Cinemax), Levin exposes the lie for what it is, drawing the maddening conclusion that the lie will continue to spread.
As a Jew who works near Ground Zero in New York, Levin made this film as a personal and ultimately futile quest for a solution to hatred. Traveling coast to coast to explore the "Protocols" phenomenon, he bemusedly seeks feedback from high-profile Jews in Hollywood (Norman Lear recommends him to Rob Reiner, and vice versa). But he finds greater and more disturbing truth in historical documents and on the streets of America, where some Arab Americans, neo-Nazi skinheads, Christian evangelicals and other groups are eager to express their hodgepodge of conflicting Jewish conspiracy theories.
The only civilized response to this display of abject ignorance, hatred and bigotry is one of anguished despair, but Levin's film enlightens as much as it enrages. Whether he's "outing" auto pioneer Henry Ford as a "Protocols" publisher or showing clips of inflammatory Egyptian and Hezbollah TV movies based on the book, it's clear that Levin's quest is never-ending and more essential than ever.
December 8, 2005 | Rating: 1.5/
Allison Benedikt Chicago Tribune Top Critic
Purporting to look at the roots of modern-day anti-Semitism, Levin only has eyes for a well-worn checklist of Jew-haters and oppressors, his shoddy search for answers turning up not a single one.
March 4, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/5
Marjorie Baumgarten Austin Chronicle
Protocols of Zion
Directed by Marc Levin. (2005, NR, 93 min.)
REVIEWED BY MARJORIE BAUMGARTEN, FRI., FEB. 10, 2006 (print)
Documentary filmmaker Marc Levin (Slam) tries to "go do good" as the inscription on his grandfather's tombstone says, with this investigative feature about the reasons for the recent renaissance of American anti-Semitism. His curiosity begins with a comment made to him by a New York cabbie, who parrots the widely debunked yet not uncommon belief that no Jews died in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 because they had all been warned beforehand to stay at home that day. Thus begins Levin's highly personal and sadly scattershot exploration into the roots and manifestations of this belief, whose origins Levin traces back to Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a cornerstone treatise of modern anti-Semitism that advances the notion that a Jewish cabal is secretly planning to take over the world. Although scholars have proved the book to be a fabrication of Czar Nicholas II's secret police dating from around the turn of the last century, the book's influence continues into the present. Once upon a time, Henry Ford handed out a copy with every new Ford purchased, and Adolf Hitler paraphrased portions in his own writings. Today it remains a top-seller among white-supremacist and some black-separatist organizations, and can be seen to still hold sway over certain media and political mouthpieces in various parts of the world. Levin's documentary is full of disturbing examples of modern anti-Semitism that he gathers as he travels about, speaking with Jewish religious leaders and anti-Semitic activists. In large measure, Protocols of Zion preaches to the choir. Levin's preferred technique of engaging people in street-corner conversations belongs to the current wave of impromptu documentary filmmaking, although the bigoted arguments he garners from street-corner activists, prison radicals, the editor of an Arab-American newspaper that published the Protocols, a leader of the white supremacy group National Alliance, and others will do nothing to alter anyone’s belief system. Levin is front and center throughout the filming, and he includes his father in much of his investigation for reasons that are as murky as the scenes he includes of a Tribeca group Passover seder and his own personal history. As he digs out his boyhood artifacts from JFK's assassination and its aftermath, Levin does manage to remind us how tough it can be to sway the minds of convinced conspiracy theorists. In the end, however, Protocols of Zion illuminates manifestations of anti-Semitism without ever really elucidating or posing solutions to the problem. AFS@Dobie.
Jim F April 12, 2015
This was not great. Levin spends most of this time saying stuff along the lines of "Can you believe anyone believes this?" instead of trying to prove why they shouldn't.
**½ Harry E November 28, 2009
Interesting but disappointing. Marc Levin takes the fascinating subject of anti-Semitism and conducts some explorations into potentially loaded territory (interviews with neo-Nazis, street thugs, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, and such) in order to ask and answer the big questions about it. Unfortunately, he doesn't dig deep enough. He conducts some nice interviews and gets some interesting opinions and notable quotations (e.g. the white supremacist who says he doesn't consider Hitler to have been suicidal), but he doesn't really go anywhere beyond scratching the surface. He goes for breadth rather than choosing to explore the depths, which makes this merely a thought-provoking starting point for discussion rather than an innovative film.
Candice H May 1, 2012
this movie should not see the lite of day....
**** Max S June 17, 2011
Good doc about a really unfortunate topic...
Andre Z April 23, 2011
OK, I don't need to see this movie to change my idea about Jews planning to rule the world. Quite possible they already do, maybe even always have and that's a good thing they do! We need someone to friggin be in charge because you people are out of control. The world will collapse if no one runs it. So If YOU can't run it then let someone else. People really need to quit talking about this whole religious conspiracy, infidels and heavenly ending stuff. Maybe then it'll go away. Stop making movies about it, in a ny case! Leave the crazies alone even if they are not leaving you alone.
**** Jacob K October 27, 2010
Good movie about the unfortunate progress of Antisemitism and it's resurrection post-9/11. I didn't know what the Protocols of the Elders of Zion were before I watched this but people apparently use this as a foundation for the many Zionist conspiracies that are out there, including alleged Jewish involvement in 9/11. Alternately educational, frightening and tragic.
**** Jennifer W July 29, 2010
I must have misread the blurb about it...not so much about 9/11 as it is about rampant anti-Semitism. It's one of those documentaries where the opposers are represented as completely illogical idiots. (That's not to say that anit-Semites are not idiots.) My favorite example was when he was speaking with the skinhead who said Hitler didn't have a single suicidal tendency. Sigh.
J*** ulia S December 18, 2007
This is not a new devlopment of anti-semtism outside of the US but with in the US it was shocking to me to see how much it has been on the rise since 9/11. And seriously do the research the Protocols are fake, they were written by people who were not Jewish, all the evidence is there. Its like the people who dont beleive the holocaust happened when all the evidene is there. I was shocked to know that people believed that the Jewish community knew about 9/11 when there's plenty of evidence that they didnt, and there were Jewish lives lost in the Towers. The only problem was the slanted view that is in all documentaries. I really wish Levin had done a little more diggin in the interviews with all the different religious perspectives just because I felt that alot of the times I was seeing the same interview.
**** Private U December 9, 2007
This is a must-see movie for every "Blame America/Israel/The Jews" nutjob out there, to let them know what kind of tradition they are following. Anti-Semitism is not the exlusive domain of the far-right or white supremicists anymore. Kudos to left-liberal filmmaker Mark Levin for daring to speak the politically incorrect truth.