The big news: Anti-Semitism exists. That's the sole revelation that the 90-minute-long Protocols of Zion ultimately arrives at. Granted, that not-so-profound statement isn't all Protocols of Zion aims to say, but it is pretty much the only thing that comes out.
It is, if nothing else, a documentary based around a fascinating conceit: examining why a conspiracy theory outlined in the dubious tome The Protocols of the Elders of Zion remains popular today, even though its racist screeds were written over a hundred years ago and have been discredited numerous times since. According to the film, the book—which claims to be evidence that Jews aim to take over the world—gained new life when a rumor spread that not a single Jew died in the 9/11 attacks.
Zion's soporific director and host, Marc Levin, begins by examining the conspiracy theory as a bizarre bit of historical errata—but then he pulls way back, talking to everyone from scholars to enterprising neo-Nazis to Hollywood's elite. And as Levin's scope shifts from the weirdly fascinating and bigoted history of the Protocols to anti-Semitism as a massive whole, the resultant film is an overlong, somewhat indulgent, and sometimes self-important documentary that fails to isolate any greater thematic thread in its examination of anti-Semitic things and events. Even some of the film's more immediately exciting elements—like creepy quotes from Mel Gibson's dad as he discredits the Holocaust, or a winning appearance by Hassidic reggae/hiphop artist Matisyahu—can't quite bring Protocols of Zion to a level of constant interest, let alone the justify the profundity it seems to think it has.
In fact, by the time Protocols of Zion closes, Levin seems content at doing nothing less than summing up the entire world's ugly history with anti-Semitism—which, unfortunately, is a topic so broad that it simply can't be summed up in one meandering documentary. Despite all its intentions of grander statements, Levin's final product is a movie that does a whole lot of talking, but hardly says anything new.