Thursday, December 2, 2010

Schindler's List

Just finished reading a review of Spielberg's 1993 movie written by Robert Leventhal of the University of Virginia. With the final credits of the movie and its violins still rolling over me, I found myself questioning everything I had just seen. Leventhal precisely deconstructs Spielberg's widely-acclaimed work into the sensationalist hollywood movie that it is. He concludes with this cool indictment, saying the film "colludes with the logic of reduction, condensation, compression, concentration and 'leveling' that are the trademarks of Fascism itself."

Leventhal raises big questions, and he found me right when I was reeling from the enormity of what I had just finished watching. After perusing the Wikipedia page, I found this review when searching google for more information about Spielberg's initial involvement in the project.

The cinematic quality of the movie and its acting is unquestionable, or hard to dispute, and I know it is near the top on many all-time best movie lists. I admit, that is why I wanted to see it in the first place. Now I realize that I, along with many others, was drawn into a narrative portrayal that distorts the truth and detracts from history by manipulating the legacy of the Holocaust for profit. Spielberg and others won fabulous awards for this work; it is Holocaust in the Hollywood mainstream. Though, as Leventhal says, it is valuable as an educational tool in this age, there is a cost to the design and success of this movie as a work of entertainment media. I do not mean to detract from the legacy of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Rather, I caution others not to take Schindler's List at face value, as I initially did.

Let us not forget the victims and survivors of any other genocide past or present, and let us work against future manifestations of such tragedies. The late Howard Zinn wrote eloquently of this in a piece titled, "Respecting the Holocaust;" I will leave you with his lasting words:

"If the Holocaust is to have any meaning, we must transfer our anger to today's brutalities. We must respect the memory of the Jewish Holocaust by refusing to allow atrocities to take place now...My point is not to diminish the experience of the Jewish Holocaust, but to enlarge upon it."

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