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Mr Death: The rise and fall of Fred A Leuchter Junior

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Fred A Leuchter Junior is a geekish-looking, bespectacled man. Employed by USA penal institutions, he developed a reputation as a respected execution technologist. He spent years improving various execution technologies to a level which he describes as "At least humane". He believed his crowing achievement would be his research which proved that the Holocaust never took place. In fact, it was to prove his ruin.

A disturbing and provocative documentary from Errol Morris.

Persons of interest

  • Fred A Leuchter Jr .... Himself
  • Robert Jan Van Pelt .... Himself
  • David Irving .... Himself
  • Caroline Leuchter .... Herself
  • James Roth .... Himself
  • Shelly Shapiro .... Herself
  • Suzanne Tabasky .... Herself
  • Ernst Zündel .... Himself
  • David Collins .... Re-enactment cast
  • Daniel Polsby .... Re-enactment cast
  • Jeff Brown .... Re-enactment cast
  • Robert Duerr .... Re-enactment cast
  • Adolf Hitler .... Himself (archive footage)
  • Errol Morris .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

*Shudders*

Not only does this documentary bring white trash to your cinema seat but it brings Nazis, neo-Nazis and Americans as well.

*Shudders*

Art has been busy imitating life. Hollywood has been busy reinventing history (eg it was the British who captured the enigma machine from the U-Boat, not the Americans) in line with the Holocaust revisionists who have been disclaiming any kind of Nazi genocidal policy. That's the fall of Mr Death: jumping into bed with the white supremacists. The rise was developing an engineer's affection for legal instruments of execution. Hey, this is the USA: you can be a master in any field.

But you get the drift. What you don't know is that the film is cut very strangely. The interviews with Fred are chopped up with a few seconds of black screen appearing seemingly at random. Is this an attempt to constantly re-engage the audience's conscious mind? If so, it works: There's no chance of you forgetting that what you're seeing isn't fiction. If it's some art thing it doesn't work: it's as annoying as hell and it made my headache worse.

One good thing about Mr Death: The rise and fall of Fred A Leuchter Junior is the use of copious amounts of archival footage, including Fred hacking bits off the Auschwitz gas chamber walls for analysis. He tells his (now ex-) wife that it's their honeymoon. Mmm... romantic. There is also a lot of fresh material, mostly Fred talking about himself in that frank (ie obnoxious) way that Americans do - this is the land of the talk show after all.

This is a flick that will have you walking out of the cinema shaking your head, eyes wide in wonder at the horrors that human beings can thrust upon the world. It's also a valuable record of a singular man.

Media intelligence (DVD)

  • Trailer: Theatrical

Security censorship classification

M (Adult themes)

Surveillance time

91 minutes (1:31 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 9 June 2000
DVD retail: 6 September 2006

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