A couple of questions


Some things puzzled us in this movie:

(1) What are the boxes of material which is buried in the schoolyard? It seems to be something that relates to Mengele's background, but why would they conceal it (and not very well, at that), rather than destroy it? And who is it that arranged for it to be buried?

(2) Why is Enzo so dead set against getting treatment for Lilith? He doesn't seem to have any suspicion that the doctor is in fact Mengele. Given the situation, you would think that he would jump at the chance to get this treatment, or at least be willing to be more flexible. Is this pure stubbornness and male chauvinism on his part?

reply

(1) I thought the buried boxes were the materials removed from the library, described in dialogue as "relating to the founding of the school". But yeah, why would they bury it so shallowly there, where it was bound to be found and raise suspicion.

(2) I was wondering throughout the movie, is Enzo Jewish? It was never stated expressly, but Lilith is a Jewish name. Anyway I think the answer to your question is that Enzo picked up a bad vibe from "Helmut", just didn't trust him. It may also have been that Enzo didn't especially like immigrants from Germany (whether or not he was Jewish). Also, the Argentinian doctors had presumably told them that nothing could be done for Lilith's small stature, so Enzo didn't want to risk an experimental treatment by a guy who works on cattle.

I had lots of other questions. What is the story with the school, was it established there just after the war ended or long before that? Presumably Eva's parents had been from Germany which is why Eva went to the school. She must have been aware that the faculty were Nazis or Nazi sympathizers (early on in the film she looked at her school photo and there was a big Nazi flag flying in front of the school). So why in 1960 was she so keen for her kids to go to the school, and why did Enzo acquiesce? Were the regular public schools no good? What was going on with Nora, especially in that early scene where she says she's going to Ushuaia? Didn't she have a permanent position at the school as its librarian? Why would she be going somewhere else?

reply

What is the story with the school, was it established there just after the war ended or long before that? Presumably Eva's parents had been from Germany which is why Eva went to the school. She must have been aware that the faculty were Nazis or Nazi sympathizers (early on in the film she looked at her school photo and there was a big Nazi flag flying in front of the school). So why in 1960 was she so keen for her kids to go to the school, and why did Enzo acquiesce? Were the regular public schools no good? What was going on with Nora, especially in that early scene where she says she's going to Ushuaia? Didn't she have a permanent position at the school as its librarian? Why would she be going somewhere else?


Eva must have gone to that school during WWII. It had the Nazi flag, plus the students were giving the Nazi salute in the photo. Eva's parents were probably Nazi sympathizers and she continued the tradition with sending her children to the same school. She even tells Enzo at one point that she doesn't care what the doctor has done in the past--perhaps she had a suspicion of who he was but didn't care because she was so eager for him to help Lilith, as well as to help her twins.

I don't understand why Enzo would agree to send his children to that school. He didn't speak German or seem to have a German background. I guess he agreed because it was important to his wife.

Nora was the school photographer and archive keeper, but that was her cover. She seemed to be some kind of Israeli agent, probably Mossad.

I thought the film was well-done despite some ambiguities and a few continuity problems, such as Lilith being sick in one scene then fine in the next. The cinematography was excellent and the direction subtle but effective. I also enjoyed the young girl who played Lilith.





And all the pieces matter (The Wire)

reply

1) The buried boxes are probably some documents relating the school to the Nazi regime. Nora is seen photographing them before they are buried. And Nora is some kind of intelligence agent, so once she captures Mengele her work would be finished there.

2) I don't think you need to be Jewish (neither chauvinist) to dislike an adult male experimenting with your little girl.

And Eva doesn't mention being from German descent, she just went to that school in the 1930s/40s, the school was probably good since she's fluent in German, and they were moving back to her childhood home, so it just makes sense to send them to the same school.

reply

There was a large German population in Argentina from the nineteenth century onwards, and I'd assumed that Eva was from that immigrant background, and had thus attended the school as a child. She may have wanted to keep the family cultural tradition alive by sending her own children there.

The Nazi flags and salutes could have been from the 1930s. Support for Nazi ideas, sometimes before the true horror was realized, was found in many German communities around the world (and amongst non-Germans of course).

As far as Enzo's disapproval went, someone else has answered it quite well: the normal reluctance of a father to have his daughter experimented on.

reply