There’s no business like Shoah business

November 25, 2008


This year and next sees an onslaught of Holocaust films and films about the Nazi’s at the box office, as if this period has not been covered enough in cinema! But is it not a fun period to revisit on the big screen? Will one of them provide any new perspectives or fresh approaches to the Nazi screen? I doubt it, but lets hope so…

See here for article.

I love Holocaust movies, bring ’em on. Wasn’t The Counterfeiters tres cool? That slippery dude making all that money to fuck up the British pound. It was also morally ambivalent too, which is a plus for these kind of films.

The Schrader film Adam Resurrected looks interesting. Valkyrie looks like a hoot, full of fascist chic care of Bryan Singer, the director of Nazi ode Apt Pupil. Also, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards, the script I read recently, gives plenty of screen time to Nazi ideas, cinema trivia and mayhem.

But I gotta ask a question on cinema and atrocity here. How many films are there about Stalin’s atrocities? A small hand full. How many on Mao? Even smaller. How many on Pol Pot? 2 or 3. How many films about Rowada? 2 or 3. How many films about about the Armenian Genocide in Turkey? None (…that I know of). How many films about Belgium’s Congo genocide? 1 or 2 (if you include Heart of Darkness adaptations).

How many films about the Holocaust? Thousands and still shooting…

What is it about the Nazi Experience that seems to fascinate the cinema screen so strongly? Its got to be more than the sexy uniforms? It seems to resonate far beyond its historical uniqueness as event.

Some highlights of Holocaust and Nazi movies coming to a Uberkinoplex near you to follow, from the article linked to above:

David Thewlis, playing a death camp commandant in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” will be joined by Willem Dafoe, who takes on a similar role in “Adam Resurrected,” Paul Schrader’s new film. In “The Reader,” directed by Stephen Daldry and based on Bernhard Schlink’s best-selling novel of the same name, Kate Winslet plays a former concentration camp guard tried for war crimes. Tom Cruise, the star of Bryan Singer’s “Valkyrie,” wears the uniform of the Third Reich though his character, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, was not a true-believing Nazi but rather a patriotic German military officer involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

And of course there will be plenty of room on screen for the victims and survivors of Hitler’s regime. Adam, the title character in “Adam Resurrected,” is a Berlin nightclub performer, played by Jeff Goldblum, who finds himself, after enduring the camps, confined to an Israeli asylum. And in Edward Zwick’s “Defiance,” Daniel Craig plays Tuvia Bielski, the real-life leader of a group of Jewish partisans who fought the Germans in the forests of Belarus. Meanwhile, the wave of European cinema dealing with Nazism and the Holocaust – most prominently represented on American screens in recent years by “The Counterfeiters,” which won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film back in February, and earlier aspirants like “Downfall” and “Black Book” – continued this autumn with the U.S. releases of “A Secret” and “One Day You’ll Understand,” two quiet, powerful French-language films exploring themes of memory and its suppression.

5 Responses to “There’s no business like Shoah business”

  1. While I appreciate ciriticism of Hollywood priorities, some of your facts are just wrong.

    The story behind Valkyrie is anti-fascist, although heaven knows what the movie will show. It was an attempted coup by conservative German officers against Hitler and the NDSAP dictatorship, they had been forced to swear allegiance to after the night of long knives. Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg wore the uniform of the Wermacht, not the Nazi party uniform or that of the SS. Your confusion is understandable, and hopefully in watching the movie you will understand the difference.

    To my knowlege, “Defiance” is the only Hollywood movie showing Jewish partisans.

    I would love to see a good anti-Soviet movie. It is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Holdimir, the mass starvation and land expropriation campaign in Ukraine, Belorus, and souther Russia under Stalin. Given the pathalogical acceptance of Stalin by Russian nationalists today, led by the irridentist and revanchist junta of Putin and Mevedev, such a film would be well timed.

  2. richard777 said

    Hi Ron,

    I know Valkyrie is supposed to be anti-fascist.

    I know about Claus Von Stauffenberg and his plot. He was a Nationalist Catholic Nazi, who thought by 1942 Hitler had lead Germany into an unwinnable war, and wanted to change Nazi leadership to deal with the Allies to stop the Russian invasion of Germany. There is a strong case that a successful Stuaffenberg operation would have been good for Germany. i.e. no divided Germany into East and West.

    Bryan Singer Valkyrie director’s technique and display of the Nazi regime in the trailers for the film is very Riefenstahlesque and quasi- fascist, though. Singer’s Apt Pupil flirts with a certain post War perceived ‘evil glamour’ of Nazism, and I expect Valkyrie to do some of the same.

    Defiance sounds excellent. Good to see a film about the Holocaust where people of Jewish descent are fighting back.

    Yes, I would love to see a film about the Ukrainian Holodomor. The starvation of Ukrainian’s by Stalin is one of the forgotten genocide’s of history.

    My main question RE: All the Holocaust movies is… why so many? Why so few of other equally important tragedies? Why is Jewish suffering at the hands of the Nazi’s given such ‘special’ treatment by Hollywood?



  3. Greg Maxwell said

    Why no Stalin/Pol Pot/Mao et al films?
    Easy, the leftists who permeate the entertainment industry and the post-modern academic elites they gravitate to and cultivate in an attempt to acquire some vicarious intellectual legitimacy could not withstand the assault on their failed ideology and the denial of its inevitable slide into totalitarianism which sustains their belief system and assumed moral superiority.

  4. richard777 said

    I couldn’t agree more Greg!

    You are quite the right wing commentator. You should do your own blog my man?



  5. Greg Maxwell said

    Thanks for the kudos Rich. I restrict myself to occasional pedagogy on other sites. It’s a self-imposed discipline which enables my work output to be higher.
    I may occasionally add a supplemental missive to your comments.

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