In the aftermath of World War II, filmmakers have been challenged to capture the depth and scope of the Holocaust in narrative and documentary productions. On this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” Rich Brownstein, author of the new book “Holocaust Cinema Complete,” offers insight on this difficult subject.
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE – Kahane Cooperman’s short documentary “Joe’s Violin” is a touching, emotional, and pretty extraordinary portrait of the value of objects, and how music can touch us and bind us together as human beings. Centered on Holocaust survivor Joe Feingold, director Cooperman explores how Joe spent most of his young life struggling to survive in concentration camps. Despite all logic indicating that he bring along bare necessities like food or clothing, Joe kept his beloved violin with him throughout his life. A now 91 year old Joe donates his violin to a Bronx music school, and he reflects on his life as young Brianna Perez prepares to perform with it.
In the realm of jurisprudence, Benjamin Ferencz is truly an icon. He is the last surviving Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials and a primary force in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). And at 95, he shows no signs of slowing down – at least, not in Ullabritt Horn’s documentary on his remarkable life and career.
In 1943, German teens Sophie and Hans Scholl, and Christoph Probst along with many others, were convicted of crimes against their country during the end of the second world war. Sophie, Hans, and Christoph were convicted and executed after being caught distributing leaflets and pamphlets speaking out against Hitler and his army. What’s depicted in “Sophie Scholl” is the utterly heroic and courageous war fought by these three people to survive and send out their messages of impending defeat to the Nazi’s. “Sophie Scholl” is a brilliant and utterly magnificent exploration not only in to the battle of these freedom fighters, but also an insightful glance at the last breath of the Nazi regime. I insist I’ve yet to see an awful depiction of the holocaust, and I stand by it. “Sophie Scholl” can be added to that list as one of the best depictions of Nazi wrath, and defiance ever made. It’s a masterpiece, pure and simple.
The holocaust was the worst crime against humanity and a race ever committed; the concept as to the extermination of the Jewish race and it’s allies is simply ridiculous and thus a thought is shown in “The Pianist” a film that rivals every one of the greatest Holocaust films ever made, including the best “Schindler’s List”. Based upon the autobiography and chronicle of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman through his struggle for survival from the beginning of the holocaust, his family’s move from smaller place to smaller place to finally a concentration camp, his escape from the concentration camp and his survival in the Warsaw ghetto, we learn something about the people of that time, the Jewish people who were persecuted among the Nazi’s; these were survivors, these were true heroes who managed to stay alive along the course of the Holocaust.
“If you understand what happened in the camps, you have a much better understanding of what we’re all about as human beings” says Tim Blake Nelson, director and writer of “The Grey Zone”. But will we ever be able to understand the holocaust? Will we ever be able to understand why we as humans would destroy others like us? Why we would kill Children, and elderly people who were treated like worthless animals? Why one man ordered the destruction of the Jewish race nearly wiping out the entire population of Polish Jews? Based on the play by Tim Blake Nelson and Miklos Nyiszli’s book “Auschwitz: a Doctor’s Eyewitness Account”, “The Grey Zone” dares to explore that question but never gives an answer. There is no answer good enough to explain why the holocaust even happened in the first place.
The movie is actually very tense in the beginning as we start in black and white bringing the feel of “Schindler’s List” as we watch the young couple attempting to escape the country of Hungary. I love the emphasis on each of the characters; Tony Goldwyn is great and has great chemistry with Nastassja Kinski. We then go to color where we see the two attempting to adjust to fifties American suburban life, and they slowly do. When they get their daughter Suzanne back, it’s all the more interesting, because she not only must adjust to a new country, but to a new life and family she never knew.