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The Lady in Number 6

The Lady in Number 6
2014 Oscar-Nominated Shorts: Live Action – winner
The Lady in Number 6 | Malcolm Clarke | Canada | 38 minutes

A perfunctory portrait of a vivacious musician, The Lady in Number 6 never quite gets at the source of Alice Herz-Sommer’s unwavering optimism. The 109-year-old pianist is the oldest living Holocaust survivor, and still playing every day in her small London flat. She maintains her enthusiastic love of music and punctuates interviews with peels of delighted laughter. Herz-Sommer has nothing bad to say about anyone, even when it comes to her relocation from Prague to the concentration camp at Terezín, where Jewish musicians would perform as part of Nazi propaganda. (Alice played more than 100 concerts and her son, the cellist Raphael Sommer, was one of the few children to survive.) Director Malcolm Clarke is forced to turn to several of her regular visitors to describe the invasion of Czechoslovakia and what survival really entailed. The Lady in Number 6 doesn’t reveal the fate of her husband, parents, and sister, or that Alice Herz-Sommer became a respected music teacher after immigrating to Israel. Clarke just indulges in her joyous spirit and lets the music she finds divine fill in the many gaps.

Postscript: Alice Herz-Sommer died on February 23, 2014 at the age of 110. The 86th Academy Awards took place on March 2, 2014.

Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on January 31, 2014

The Lady in Number 6 is available on Netfix