Paper Clips: A moving documentary

This is the story about some middleschoolers in a small town in Tennessee who decide to study the Holocaust. In the process of this they had a hard time visualizing what 6 Million looked like and they decided to collect paper clips because Norwegians used to wear paperclips as a silent protest during the war.

This movie is not so much about the Holocaust, although there are incredibly moving scenes with Holocaust survivors who come to talk to the school, but it is about how the school and the community banded together, along with some key interventions by journalists who rose awareness globally on what this little school was trying to accomplish.

It starts out very rough - the first 15 minutes is cheesy and feels overly scripted, and the inability to turn off incredibly large subtitles is very annoying. However, it just builds and builds and I had a hard time keeping my eyes clear.

It was a very refreshing documentary, and glad I watched it. Their project is truly one-of-a-kind. I will never look at a paper clip the same way again.


Saw it on Netflix insty-view a while back. Nice documentary. Very moving. They came pretty close to losing me with the boxcar, though.

The boxcar was a bit over the top when they first talked about it. I was worried they would just use it as a storage shed, but then once you see the final product, they did a good job in using it as an interpretive center. The scene where Johan Vaalor picks up a few in his hand and carefully caresses them and gently puts them back was heartfelt.

The way they catalogued all the letters they recieved could be a part of a living history document, maybe a companion to the Shoah Foundation. So many people, who either survived or had friends/relatives involved, sent in paper clips with letters.

Pretty good documentary of an amazing story. To think that some little small town school could pull something like this together is just awesome.

“It looks like you’re trying to create a documentary!”

There, now we have that out of the way.

I mean, I could go both ways on this. Some of it was awesome, but there was a lot of weird smug-ness to all of the teachers. Like what they were doing was very important historically. The worst of this was the rail-car. When they talked about how it was conceived it felt like “how can we get more attention?”

It reminds me a lot of the opening of a Mr. Show episode where Bob Odenkirk is doing the charity work on T.V. and says that doing Charity work is to show people on TV how good you are.

Now, I don’t think they had this in mind completely… but the documentary was so staged at points that it felt that way.

I really enjoyed most of it and liked the ways the kids seemed to learn during the time it took them to do the project, especially as they began to realize just how many paperclips six million really was.

But when the teachers were talking about the box car, there was almost a creepy, ghoulish quality to her delight at the idea of bringing in a car that, at one point, had been crammed with Jews on their way to die.

12 million people died in the Holocaust.

Sounds like an interesting documentary though.

They do 12 in the end, to cover everyone.

They ended up with north of 29 million paper clips. They ended up using 11 million - 6 million for Jews and 5 million for all the other non-jews.