Film and the Holocaust
New Perspectives on Dramas, Documentaries, and Experimental FilmseBook - 2011
When representing the Holocaust, the slightest hint of narrative embellishment strikes contemporary audiences as somehow a violation against those who suffered under the Nazis. This anxiety is, at least in part, rooted in Theodor Adorno's dictum that "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." And despite the fact that he later reversed his position, the conservative opposition to all "artistic" representations of the Holocaust remains powerful, leading to the insistent demand that it be represented, as it really was.
And yet, whether it's the girl in the red dress or a German soldier belting out Bach on a piano during the purge of the ghetto in Schindler's List, or the use of tracking shots in the documentaries Shoah and Night and Fog, all genres invent or otherwise embellish the narrative to locate meaning in an event that we commonly refer to as "unimaginable." This wide-ranging book surveys and discusses the ways in which the Holocaust has been represented in cinema, covering a deep cross-section of both national cinemas and genres.
Artistic representations of the Holocaust have been met with criticism because some think that the Holocaust should only be portrayed in a strictly factual manner. Kerner (cinema, San Francisco State U.) questions the entrenched criteria by which Holocaust films are usually judged in this broad survey of narrative, documentary, and experimental Holocaust films from various countries. While paying attention to the established canon of Holocaust films, the book also includes studies of films that have been overlooked, including Naziploitation films, horror films that use the Holocaust as a backdrop, and experimental films using found footage. The author analyzes the rhetorical strategies Holocaust filmmakers use and the associated theoretical and ethical concerns of these strategies. In addition to covering the films, the book introduces some of the scholarship and critical literature related to representing the Holocaust. B&w film stills are included. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)