“The Last Days,” the Academy Award-winning documentary feature executive produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by James Moll, produced by June Beallor and Ken Lipper, and featuring music by Hans Zimmer, has been remastered and will be available on Netflix beginning May 19, 2021. The film was also re-released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to own on Blu-ray in early April, as part of USC Shoah Foundation’s Stronger Than Hate Initiative. Launched in response to the deadly white nationalist rally of August 2017 in Charlottesville, VA, the Stronger Than Hate global initiative draws on the power of eyewitness testimony to help students and the general public recognize and counter antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of hatred.
“The Last Days” traces the compelling experiences of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors who fell victim to Adolf Hitler’s brutal war against the Jews during the final days of World War II. The film shares the remarkable stories of five people – a grandmother, a teacher, a businessman, an artist, and a U.S. congressman – as they return from the United States to their hometowns, and to the ghettos and concentration camps that once imprisoned them. Through the eyes of the survivors and other witnesses, including a former Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, the film recounts one of the darkest chapters in human history. Above all, “The Last Days” is a potent depiction of personal strength and courage, and a testament to the power of the human spirit.
“My sincere hope is this beautifully remastered version will serve as a catalyst to continued conversations around the consequences of antisemitism and hatred,” said Steven Spielberg the film’s executive producer and Founder of USC Shoah Foundation.
The remastered version of “The Last Days” was made possible by the generous support of Ceci Chan, a longtime USC Shoah Foundation Executive Committee Board Member who has worked for decades to combat racism, hatred, and antisemitism. “I believe we are all morally responsible for bettering the world, said Chan. “The Last Days” is a powerful film and a strong reminder to global audiences about the importance of kindness, compassion, civility, and democracy. The impact of The Last Days will resonate for generations to come.”
The re-release also commemorates the 77th anniversary of the mass deportation of approximately 440,000 Jews from Hungary from May 15 – July 9, 1944, the largest mass deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau where the majority of men, women, and children were killed in the gas chambers upon arrival.
“As we see the resurgence and crises of antisemitism in Hungary and worldwide today, The Last Days provides powerful context and a window into this unique chapter of WWII while engaging contemporary audiences with the very real struggles we are facing now,” said Stephen D. Smith, Finci-Viterbi Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation. “The Last Days informs us with lessons of the past and inspires us with stories that exemplify what it means to be stronger than hate.”
Ken Lipper, who provided the inspiration and initial concept for the film, served as a producer, and helped fund the original production said, “It was my honor to bring the film to the world originally in 1998. We wanted to explore how Hitler and the Nazis were motivated by pure evil, expressed as antisemitism, not political, economic or military considerations; and ultimately their obsession with murdering innocent children, women, and men because they were Jews might have cost the Nazis the war. Hopefully, the film will bring to the forefront again the discussion of how politics, policies, and moral commitment can inform action or inaction in the face of hate.”
“The Last Days” was remastered from the original 35MM film negative, under the supervision of director James Moll and producer June Beallor, the original filmmaking team. Moll is an Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning filmmaker whose credits include Inheritance, Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, and Medal of Honor for Netflix. Beallor’s films have garnered numerous awards, including Oscar, numerous Emmys, and the George Foster Peabody Award among others. Together, Moll and Beallor were Founding Executive Directors of USC Shoah Foundation working as primary architects with Founder Steven Spielberg to establish and run the organization during its formative years. Beallor has continued to work with the Shoah Foundation, now based at the University of Southern California, as an Executive Consultant for more than two decades.
“Directing this film and meeting these five inspirational survivors was one of the great honors of my life,” said Moll. “It’s meaningful to now re-introduce the film to a whole new audience, largely people who were too young for the subject matter when the film was first released or for others who may not have had access to the film because in 1998 we didn’t have the convenience of Netflix to bring the film into our homes.”
Beallor shared, “This re-release is deeply important as we find ourselves in a moment when hatred and violent acts of racism are at crisis points and genocides continue around the globe. Bringing attention to the vital work of USC Shoah Foundation and introducing the film to new audiences could not be more urgent than it is now.”
FotoKem provided remastering services and generous support.
Distributed theatrically by October Films, “The Last Days” is presented by Steven Spielberg and USC Shoah Foundation. The film is directed by James Moll, produced by June Beallor and Ken Lipper, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, with music by Hans Zimmer.