Saturday, November 21, 2009

Holocaust 20 films -Schindler a self-server?

Debunking heroes in the name of sensationalism and deflating them in the process by ascribing, yes,ulterior motives to the film maker, and creating "revisionist whitewash" without documenting and proving Schindler as a self serving bottom liner seems obvious from a review of the film. Character is never analyze3d for motives or the why of his later saving actions ,according to Grunes. But is this true? Cannot providence or a divine event so intervene implying God's hand in the matter and that is not a facile undertaking but could be the explanation for his life change in a moment of time,credible in the very nature of this divine event.Not all can be facilely or otherwise explained in such a life wrenching change of motivation to save the lives of these Jews. The invisibility of righteous gentiles is creative license to give focus to Schindler's character and actions, not indeed taken but for the craft and art of the film as an organic whole. The twenty films mentioned give a spectrum of views and perspectives of the period and I am grateful for their listing for my follow-up.

The subject matter is the Holocaust. Based on Thomas Keneally’s 1982 novel, the film depicts the rounding up of Polish Jews during the Second World War. A Catholic businessman and Nazi Party member, Oskar Schindler manages to spare more than a thousand persons the fate of six million other European Jews by gaining them official exemptions based on their war-vital production work at a factory that he has taken over. Schindler’s “list,” then, consists of the names of these fortunate few. Spielberg is here renewing Keneally’s fictional license. For the real Schindler was a self-serving bottom-liner who, far from manipulating Nazi policy, periodically selected for extermination members of his in fact changing, not growing, list. (At war’s end, fewer than three dozen of the original persons listed were among those rescued.) This revisionist whitewash, though, serves Spielberg’s purpose. For out of the overwhelmingly somber event of the Holocaust Spielberg has been able to extract material suitable for his brand of sentimental uplift, although a few unnerving sequences suggest a loftier intent: an ironic use of the lucky few to evoke the terrible fate of the unlucky many. In one of these passages, female prisoners, their names on Schindler’s list, are mistakenly transported to a death camp where the mass shower they are herded in to take, amidst their frantic fear of imminent gassing, turns out to be just a shower after all. Coldly manipulative, scenes like this end up seeming lurid and cruel, effectively undoing any ironic strategy Spielberg may have had in mind. In all, his film fails its subject matter by grossly sensationalizing it.Schindler changes appreciably and therein lies this inexplicable nature of goodness and the attendant evil juxtaposed with it This is legitimate and motifs for the grand work of art the film is and has turned out to be precisely because of concentration on these motifs.


Nor does the film investigate character. What motivates Spielberg’s Schindler? At first he is shown merely courting Nazi favor while chasing a deutsche mark; the notion of saving lives comes later. But we never learn how or why—only when: after a recreational horseback ride affords him a panoramic view of Jews being routed below. The lofty vantage facilely implies God’s hand in Schindler’s shifting sense of purpose; and, true enough, caring non-Jews did risk their own safety hiding Jews and working underground against the Nazis—people, by the way, this film makes invisible the better to mythologize its Schindler. But many more saw what Schindler saw and cared little or nothing about it. So why was he different? What got him onto such a righteous road? Are his rescue efforts a guilty reaction to his earlier indifference to Nazi ideology and practice? Is his game-playing with Nazis a mischievous extension of his entrepreneurial bent? What gives with him?


This failure to consider motive has led some to babble on about the inexplicable nature of goodness. Inexplicable to whom? No one forced Spielberg to make this film; if he wasn’t interested in the whys or wherefores, or couldn’t fathom them, he should have turned over Steven Zaillian’s script to someone else to direct. For what we do always derives from who or what we are. We don’t see this in Spielberg’s Schindler only because the character isn’t searched, or shown in sufficient detail. (Given his goonish Nazis, one can assume that Spielberg also finds evil inexplicable.) As it happens, Spielberg may have been on to something without even knowing it. It’s potentially interesting that Schindler hardly seems to change at all; for, had he been more perspicacious, Spielberg might have built upon this apparent constancy of Schindler’s in order to suggest that our very best behavior sometimes originates in the same complex of attitudes and impulses as our very worst. Good deeds can proceed from other than noble minds and bleeding hearts. But Spielberg, a melodramatist, evinces here no such basic grasp of human complexity.


The twenty films on the alphabetical list all touch upon the
Holocaust or its aftermath. They come from more than a half-dozen countries,
including Poland, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Italy, France and Israel. An “x”
indicates that the film is a documentary.
x, 1995THE BLACK FOX. Louis Clyde Stoumen, x, 1962BORDER STREET. Aleksandr Ford,
Jan Nemec, 1964EUROPA, EUROPA. Agnieszka Holland, 1991FATELESS. Lajos Koltai,
& THE INSCRIPTION OF WAR. Harun Farocki, x, 1989KORCZAK. Andrzej
Wajda, 1990THE LAST STOP. Wanda Jakubowska, 1948LODZ GHETTO. Kathryn Taverna,
Alan Adelson, x, 1989MEMORY OF WATER. Hector Faver, x, 1993.THE NEW LAND. Orna
Ben-Dor Niv, 1994NIGHT AND FOG. Alain Resnais, x, 1955PARTISANS OF VILNA. Josh
Waletzky, x, 1986PASSENGER. Andrzej Munk, Witold Lesiewicz, 1963PHOTOGRAPHER.
Dariusz Jablonski, x, 1998THE PIANIST. Roman Polanski, 2002

CONFERENCE. Heinz Schirk, 1984
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