Tuesday, March 24, 2009

blitz of films to cleanse memories of Gaza

All visual representations exist within complex contexts; they are never isolatos devoid of cultural, political, social, historical, or economic power relations; they must be viewed intertextually for their making and viewing are mediated by the social world.

In a thought-provoking article on JewishJournal online where he explains the difference between films about the Holocaust and Holocaust-related films, Tom Teicholz states that

"Holocaust-related movies so crowded the end-of-year releases that at one point it seemed that on any given weekend you had to choose which Holocaust movie to see."

Teicholz begins his critique of what he calls Holocaust-related films by asking "Are Holocaust movies good for the Jews? Or even, for that matter, for society at large?," and then listing some of last year's films:

"This year’s offerings include “Defiance,” a story of a group of Jews who were heroic resistance fighters; “The Reader,” a story of post-war revelation about a Nazi woman who beds down with a German boy; “Good,” about the moral compromises of a German university professor in the Nazi era; “Adam Resurrected,” based on Yoram Kaniuk’s novel about a demented Holocaust survivor living in Israel; “Valkyrie,” about the Nazi plot to murder Hitler; and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” about the friendship between a German officer’s son and a Jewish child in a concentration camp. The lineup even includes a horror movie, “The Unborn,” which features a Mengele-Auschwitz plot point. And then there’s Roberta Grossman’s documentary, “Blessed Is the Match,” about Hannah Senesh, which was on the early lists as an Oscar contender."

His article is worth a read for he discusses whether truthfulness can be accessed or represented in films "about" the Holocaust. He argues that the films are fictions that selectively re-present constructions which are narratives, that the films are inventions constructed by particular narrators:

"But herein lies the conflict: Films tell stories, and they can move and educate people and sometimes even change them. But the Holocaust is a reality and not a teaching story or an action adventure. The reasons a film does or does not work and the reasons we find it a credible rendering of some aspect of the Holocaust exist on separate tracks that of necessity must overlap to make a successful film.

And there’s the rub. Because good filmmaking is not about historical accuracy; it depends upon fakery and invention.

A movie, even a documentary, generally conforms to what audiences have come to know. A film has a certain length and a certain narrative structure. There are heroes and villains, often played by movie stars. There is conflict; there is drama; there are love stories; and there is often a point to be made. A work that “breaks the rules” still does so in the context of a set of expectations — and that format doesn’t by its nature fit the facts of the Holocaust.
....
There always will be winners and losers among Holocaust films. Some may be memorable and may indeed have a large impact on how history is perceived. Nevertheless, we must also acknowledge that these films, by their very nature, are — like the shadows in Plato’s cave — mere projections, personalized recantations or reinventions of an epic series of events.

So, there cannot be a “good” Holocaust film, only a good film about Holocaust-related events
."

Teicholz's article helps reminds us that films, whatever their subject matter, with the Holocaust being no exception as in his piece it is an exemplary example to draw on to show the impossibility of accessing "the truth", are selective, partial constructions. Films are representations and not "the truth", yet this truthfulness is however how they are perceived.

Brad Pitt is also joining the rush to make a Holocaust-related film: “now Brad Pitt can add a completely new role to his repertoire: an American-Jewish hillbilly from Tennessee.

Pitt has signed on to play Aldo, aka "Aldo the Apache," in Quentin Tarantino's upcoming World War II film, "Inglorious Bastards," about a handpicked group of American-Jewish soldiers who kill Nazis in brutal and violent ways in order to undermine the Third Reich. Pitt's character has "the Apache" moniker due to his signature move of scalping Nazi soldiers.”

Also, Helen Mirren. Mirren went to Israel recently (so much for any support from her of BDS) to film the final scenes of a film where she will take up a role as a femme fatale Nazi hunter who, with 2 others, goes on a 30 year hunt of Nazis:

"Helen Mirren, Oscar-winning star of "The Queen", has swapped crown and sceptre for cloak and dagger in her new role as a Nazi-hunter.

The 63-year-old British actress is in Israel this week shooting final scenes for "The Debt", about a retired Mossad femme fatale forced to make amends after bungling the capture of a German war criminal, a production source said."

Both Tom Teicholz's critical review of Holocaust-related films and the article about Brad Pitt's new role as Jewish scalper of Nazis, refer to "Defiance", a film released late last year:

"Jewish fighters in the Holocaust is the subject of another upcoming blockbuster, Defiance, which stars the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, as Jewish partisan Tuviel Bielski."

Now, while the patriarch of the Jewish Israeli/American/European family that this movie is based on states that becoming a soldier and going to war is genetic in his family, "It's just genetic," Yakow said. We're warrior Jews."

other documents dispute the narrative that is told in the film "Defiance":

A new movie about a band of Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis during the Holocaust has led some in Poland to suggest that the group may also have been murderers.

In anticipation of the December release of "Defiance" starring Daniel Craig, aka James Bond, a Polish newspaper ran an article headlined, "A Hollywood Movie About Heroes or Murderers?"

The article in Gazeta Wyborcza contrasts the film's portrayal of Tuvia Bielski as a Moses figure leading frightened women and children through the forest, with a recently released report from a Polish government investigative body. The government report suggests that Bielski and his followers may have participated in a massacre of civilians in the eastern Polish town of Naliboki
.”

However, those involved in telling the story of the genetically-disposed to war Jewish brothers state in the above article that the Polish report on possible war crimes committed by this band of brothers is anti-Semitic.

I also came across another film called "Infiltration" by Dover Koshashvili, director and screenwriter, but this film looks like it tackles Jewish and/or Israeli soldiering from a critical perspective. It is not a Holocaust-related film, but a film that looks at the racialization processes in Israeli society as they play out in the Israeli military:

"Koshashvili immigrated to Israel from Georgia when he was six years old, and his engagement with the community of immigrants from his native country has already become his cinematic trademark (along with his lack of inhibition about showing stark nudity and direct, unsanctimonious sex scenes in his films). Although "Infiltration" diverts him from this familiar environment to new realms, this time, too, Koshashvili continues to deal with characters who are trying to fit into the Israeli environment where they are still considered foreign and different.

"Infiltration" will try to outline the Israeli "melting pot" that is forced on immigrants who come to this country, and the demand directed at them to leave behind any sign of weakness or "diaspora mentality" in favor of adopting the values of the local society, with it's bullying and macho characteristics. He himself is able to identify in a certain way with the characters in his new film, says Koshashvili, because he, too, went through boot camp at Training Base 4. Although this happened much later than the 1950s, and although he did not undergo training for recruits with a low fitness profile but rather regular boot camp, after which he went to a squad commanders' course and commanded rookies, most of the experiences the characters in the film encounter are familiar to him.

"The whole military atmosphere that pervades the film," he says, "reminds me a bit of those days. The harassment of the rookies, the infinite power in the hands of the staff - these are things that I definitely remember. The soldiers in the film do undergo experiences that are a little different, but we too were made to crawl under barbed wire and go though all kinds of bullying."


2 comments:

visitor said...

Im reallty sorry you have trouble with films being made about the holocaust. You need some help. But hey if you try having compassion for other maybe they will have compassion for you. This is one truly sad comment from you. But not a surprise. A website of hate.

northshorewoman said...

visitor, go back and read my post and the articles I link to before posting such stupid comments.