The Figure Of A Man

A group of men wearing Nazi uniforms stand in a circle around an emaciated man with a shaved head wearing striped pajamas: “Having been cast as an extra in the remake of Schindler’s List, Omar decided to alter his already slim frame by going on a crash diet, which consisted of eating less than one thousand calories a day and running seven miles every single day of the week. Three weeks into what turned out to be a very protracted shoot (the initial projection of twenty-one days ballooned into almost four months of continuous shooting, an ordeal described in clinical detail and great humor in Lily Salmon’s A Farce: The Making Of The Remake Of Schindler’s List) Omar had lost close to thirty pounds, and, as such, resembled nothing so much as a walking skeleton, or, in other words, out of all the extras cast, Omar looked most authentically like a victim of the concentration camps. Treated like a valuable prop by the director, Omar was strategically placed within the frame of multiple scenes (you could almost say he was highlighted) and became quite popular with the actors hired to play the Nazi guards and commandants, all of whom were very consistent in complimenting Omar as he continued to lose weight and dwindle down to a mere shell of a man (his appearance, they said, helped them slip into character, thus making their job easier, and by making their job easier Omar was helping them look good, i.e., natural and competent, which, in an actor’s mind, could only lead to more work, even if it meant being typecast as a Nazi). No compliments were forthcoming from the other extras hired to play concentration camp victims, however. They seemed, to Omar at least, to resent Omar, who, for the entirety of the shoot, found himself alone when not in the company of those portraying Nazis. Liberated by the completion of principal photography, Omar returned to his daily life, where he was unable (or, perhaps, unwilling) to gain back all the weight he had lost. His formerly drab and purposeless existence now enlivened by his sole experience making a movie, Omar adapted Simone Weil’s The Need For Roots into a one-man stage play, but was unable to procure funding.”

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