Anyone who has an opportunity to see the new biographical documentary “Ahead of Time” should seize the chance. Not that it is a perfect film, although it’s a good one, but because it will introduce you to one of the most fascinating journalists of our time, Ruth Gruber.
Gruber, who has written nineteen books, will celebrate her 100th birthday this year. The film, which is made on current interviews and conversations, mixed with old film footage, provides not only a lesson in history, but a lesson in how one woman, clearly ahead of time, was able to do so much.
I have read a number of her books and would like to read the remainder, and to reread those I have already gone through. The film tells of her work through 1947. The filmmaker has said that he could not put her entire life in one movie; it would be too much.
Although it leaves out important details, the film discusses her Brooklyn childhood, her time at City College (it omits Wisconsin), her receipt of a doctorate from the University of Cologne in 1932, when she was only 20 and her thesis on Virginia Woolf, her attendance at a Hitler rally, her first newspaper stories, her trip to Moscow and then to the Soviet arctic, her time in Alaska, her assistance in bringing 1000 refugees from the Nazis to Oswego NY, her time with UNSCOP, the 12 man commission created to advise the British as to whether or not Jewish immigration into Palestine should be permitted after the war ended, her participation in the trip of the Exodus and its sister ships from Haifa to France and back to Israel.
She is a remarkable person, not only because as a woman she was clearly ahead of her time, but because she not only was so often right in he heart of things, but because she knew how to put herself there in full confidence, and because she was able to be both a reporter and a participant in the events she reported, and an advocate for what she believed was appropriate.
Ot enough people are aware of Ruth Gruber and unfortunately, at least based on the twelve people present at tonight’s showing at the Bethesda Landmark Theatres, this good film may not do the trick.