Socialist Worker

His faith in hate

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 1782

THE BELIEVER is a difficult film to watch. It is centred on Daniel Balint, a character at war with himself. He is a Jew, but also a violent Nazi in modern day New York. Balint despises all Jews, saying that 'the modern world is a Jewish disease'.

The first scene of this disturbing film is of Balint attacking a Jewish student. The film explores how somebody from his background could become an anti-Semite. The Believer is based on the true story of a Jewish man who joined the racist Ku Klux Klan in the US in the 1960s.

We are shown Balint as a child at school refusing to follow a violent and uncaring god. He questions the meaning of god, and his teacher forces him to leave the class. Balint's hatred of the way he believes Holocaust survivors did not fight back against their Nazi oppressors is evident.

He is an intelligent Nazi whose articulate speeches draw him to the attention of a pair of fascists who yearn for success and respectability. They put a suit on him, make him their fundraiser and warn him to stop the anti-Semitism.

But Balint is impatient and yearns to commit violence against Jews. As he becomes more violent he also begins to regain his faith. When other Nazis are desecrating a synagogue he stops them destroying a holy work. Balint becomes a much more contradictory character. He begins to wear religious cloth under his T-shirt and meets up with old Jewish friends. Balint even teaches his girlfriend - the daughter of a fascist - Hebrew and the Torah. The Believer is an interesting film about religion, racism and hatred. It convincingly depicts the violence and delusions of modern Nazis. Unfortunately, Daniel Balint's thoughts, emotions and situation feel too contrived to be totally believable.

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Sat 12 Jan 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1782
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