Kurt Gerron was a successful German-Jewish actor, director and cabaret star in the Berlin of the 1920s. He worked in any medium, from cabaret to film. He was a big man and a big star. Inevitably, when the Nazis came to power, Gerron was rounded up with thousands of others and sent to Theresienstadt, a town near Prague that was turned into a concentration camp. His creative urge and the captive talent around him led him to produce shows – everything from children’s opera to concerts, poetry, painting "¦ When the Nazis launched a propaganda campaign to counter rumours about conditions in camps, they ordered Gerron to make a documentary of Theresienstadt as the model camp, where artists had freedom to create, the inmates sat at cafes to listen and generally life was being lived on easy street.
 

4.5
The biography of Kurt Gerron illustrates life under the Nazi regime in new ways.

Prisoner Of Paradise is a documentary about Kurt Gerron, a Jewish cabaret artist, actor and film director who died in the Holocaust. Gerron was a large man best remembered by film buffs for portraying the owner of the club where Marlene Dietrich sings in The Blue Angel, though on stage he\'d played the lead role in The Threepenny Opera and immortalised the song, Mac the Knife. Before the Nazis won power in 1933 he had turned to direction, but unlike fellow film people - Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak among them - he stayed in Europe, moving first to France and then to Holland, where he resumed work as a cabaret entertainer. Eventually he was placed in a concentration camp at Theresienstadt, near Prague, and there he was ordered by the Nazis to direct a documentary that would show how idyllic life in the place was.Like the Alec Guinness character in The Bridge on the River Kwai Gerron seems to have leapt at the chance to prove his expertise, forgetting that what he was making was a piece of lying propaganda. It\'s an extraordinary story, very well told by directors Malcolm Clarke and Stuart Sender, and marred only by the use of voice-over, rather than sub-titles, for the numerous interviews with survivors from this painful period.