This chapter provides an overview of Péter Forgács’s film The Maelstrom. It argues that Forgács’s challenge as a filmmaker, as an archivist, and as a film explorer is to preserve the ordinariness of his subjects even as he frames them for us in extraordinary times. Melodrama, skepticism, and irony are three standard responses to the nonfiction film, responses that may have more potency with regard to the reframing and rethinking of home movies that is part of Forgács’s project. Forgács introduces a mode of comparison into Maelstrom that is both extreme and delicate. The Peerebooms are not the only family pictured in the film. He also takes us into the world of the Seyss-Inquarts by showing earlier clips from an amateur film of a Nazi youth group in Holland in 1935 and by voice-overs that announce Hitler’s welcome in Vienna in 1938 and the attack on Western Europe in 1940.
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