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|DVD: Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust|
|Written by Trent Daniel|
|Monday, 09 February 2009 14:47|
“Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust” is a documentary by Daniel Anker. Narrated by Gene Hackman.
Perhaps the most fascinating section of the film is at the beginning, regarding how Hollywood chose to (or perhaps better yet, chose not to) deal with the subject. This section serves as a rather blunt history lesson on America in the 1930s, when racism and anti-Semitism were still culturally acceptable, if perhaps not the norm (there was a strong pro-German, pro-Nazi movement, called the “Bund” in the US at this time). Even when the Nazi threat was becoming more and more apparent, it must be remembered that the majority of Americans wanted the US to stay out of “Europe’s war.”
From there, the film follows how Hollywood’s willingness to deal with the subject matter has shifted over the past 60 years, from serious major studio films about anti-Semitism in the late 1940s (most notably “Crossfire” and 1947 Best Picture winner “Gentleman’s Agreement”) to a cooling off period in the 1950s (most likely due to Joe McCarthy’s infamous HUAC comities, which had a barely hidden streak of anti-Semitism in them) through landmark films on the subject, such as “[[Judgment at Nuremburg]],” “[[The Pawnbroker]],” “[[Cabaret]],” “[[The Pianist]]” and of course “[[Schindler’s List]].”
While the “Schindler’s List” section is involving (and it addresses head on the primary criticism of the film, namely that the Jews are secondary characters while a Nazi party member is indeed the hero of the film [I could write my passionate defense for Spielberg regarding this issue, but I digress]), the film makes the wise choice of devoting time to the somewhat underappreciated “[[Sophie’s Choice]]” as well. The revelation of her “choice” is one of the most gut wrenching, emotionally shattering scenes ever filmed and though blood free, captures the depths of Nazi cruelty almost perfectly.
Though obviously hard to watch at times, “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust” is an impressive and thorough account of how Hollywood has handled one of the darkest but perhaps most important events in human history. Though not always successful, it does show that the film industry has done its part to make sure the Holocaust is never forgotten.
Extras: None (none needed, really).
|Last Updated on Monday, 09 February 2009 14:53|