“Misha and the Wolves is the dramatic tale of a woman whose holocaust memoir took the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher – who turned detective – […]
“Misha and the Wolves is the dramatic tale of a woman whose holocaust memoir took the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher – who turned detective – revealed an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth.”
Director: Sam Hobokinson Writer: Sam Hobokinson Release Date: August 11, 2021
The log line for Misha And The Wolves (2021) roped me in incredibly fast. The story that this movie tells is just as intriguing as the story it is interrogating. You have someone pulling a version a Tarzan, surviving the most horrific event in human history and then thriving in the aftermath of the hardship. It all seems go good and up lifting.
The common phrase is“If something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.”Misha And The Wolves takes that idiom and applies it to fictionalized life of Misha Defonseca. Everything Misha told the public about her story was a fabrication. It was a way of coping with her own true circumstances, and everyone has those crimps they need to live. But Misha’s version of self-therapy affected the entire world. She was spinning a web of lies and manipulating all types of audiences with fake tears and admiration.
Alright, so who is Misha Defonseca?
Misha is a catholic, Belgian-born woman who perpetrated a vivid fib that she was sheltered by a friendly pack of wolves in the woods after her fictitious parents were deported be the Germans. Misha also said that she killed a man out of self-defense, snuck in and out of the Warsaw Ghetto and managed to get home on her own accord at the end of the war. Her story was made into Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years. It was published in 1997 and immediately became an international success. It was translated into dozen of languages and adapted into a major motion picture. Misha was going on media tours and living the life, till it all came tumbling down.
Jane Daniel was a local book publisher who leaved near Misha in Millis, Ma. Misha told Daniel that story and she went to work right away publishing Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, even against the will of some Holocaust experts who said the story was too good to be true (Listen to the experts people!). Misha creates her own enemy when she files a major lawsuit against Daniel regarding the profits for the memoir. Daniel’s must pay Misha a large sum, as ordered by the courts, and now Misha has the money and she begins her international tour of fame.
Daniel and others begin investigating the story of Misha and discrepancies are spotted. While Misha is talking to audiences across the world and helping the adaptation of a movie, evidence is piling up against her. The death nail comes when a researcher working with Daniel finds a baptism certificate from a Brussels church and a register from an elementary school from 1943, two years after she claimed she vanished into the woods.
The uncovering of the story is the actual story of this movie, Misha And The Wolves. Watching this documentary you get to hear from Jane Daniel, the instrumental forensic genealogist Sharon Sergeant who actually found all the damning evidence and many others who were part of this story. The one person you do not hear from in this story is Misha herself, and that is a fairly large detriment to this story.
Everything wee see of Misha in this story is archival footage, things that she has said in the past and integrated into this story. The makers of this documentary recreate a room where she was interviewed in the past and deconstruct it as a way symbolize her world crumbling around her empty memory, but how great it would have been to get the voice of this liar and her current mindset?
In 2008 Misha did admit that she fabricated the entire story as a way to cope with her real life struggle. The story of her own family is not an easy one. Her father and mother were part of a resistance movement against the Germans in Belgium, but due to a loud mouth, her father got himself and his wife captured. The couple go to a German prison camp and Misha’s father loosens his lips and reveals the names of his fellow resistance fighters in exchange for the safety of his wife and the ability to see his young Misha one more time.
Misha says (in archival footage) that she is tormented from being called “the traitor’s daughter” her entire life. That is why she created her story. She was quoted as saying to “Le Soir” that “The book is a story, it’s my story…it’s not the true reality, but it is my reality. There are times when I find it difficult to differentiate between reality and my inner world.”
The most interesting question that The Book Of Misha poses is to what extend is she a victim of her father’s mistake and just how horrific her crime is to those who actually did survive the holocaust? These are thought provoking questions. Unfortunately, these concepts are the most skimped over in the documentary. The final 15 minutes are not completely flushed out, and that is because they do not have the current Misha to speak on how she feels and what she deserves. It is people speculating what she feels and tossing around the ideas they are feeling towards Misha, but its all a funnel that leads out into the ocean rather than being sifted through to find some golden nuggets.
Misha And The Wolves has a fascinating story that is not served well enough by this particular project. If you want to learn more about this story, and I strongly encourage that you should, seek out news articles or exposes telling the story of Misha and her coverup. It can provide the level and detail and more intersection compared to this particularly documentary.
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