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September 13, 1985 - Image 79

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-09-13

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German Films Held
Clue To The Holocaust

. ,

A Hartford University cinema
expert has asserted that "every
movie" that came from Germany
after 1933, when Hitler came to
power, "sent out signals" and
that the decision of Jewish dis-
tributors outside of Germany
against distribution of , such
films had the irony" of
withholding vital lessons about
the genocide the Nazis were
The background of this evalu-
ation by Paul Stacy was
his conyiction,. stated in the
same ,address at the university,
that films force viewers to look
t the truth, in this case, speci-
cally, about the Holocaust, in a
way that words cannot.
Stacy's talk was one in a
symposium : series on "The
Holocaust in Historical Perspee-
five," sponsored by the univer-
sity. During his talk, Stacy
showed -excerpts from films to
butress his conclusions. He de-
clared that ."Holocaust movies
assault us with images so hon-
est, so painful and so despairing
that they accumulate into an
unprecedented belief in our own
The cinema scholar asserted
that inBidney Lumet's film, The
Pawnbroker (1964), the past ec-
lipses the present for Holocaust
survivor , Nazerman, portrayed
by Rod Steiger. The survivor's
total abdication from life —
even as he goes on living — is
made totally clear in the film by
dialogue, acting and photog-
raphy 'and, above all, by "an as-
tonishing . editing whereby the
past assassinates a , man's
psyche." ..; •
He said no book could have
presented ' "a more seething
truth about the death camps"
than Night and Fog (1964), by
Alain, ,Resnais. . The most effec-
tive scenes in that, film are
photos of mountains of such ob-
jects as spectacles, hair and
shoes. "The significance of these
objects torn out of context" —
such as when they are presented
in poetry as "imaginism" — is
"magnifed and given totemic
power," he said.
Stacy described how the film,
Cabaret (1972) communicated
the rise of the Nazi movement.
In an apparently idyllic, scene in
aheer garden, the camera zooms
in on the angelic face of a teen-
ager starting to sing. As the
camera moves back, it becomes
clear that the teenager is wear-
ing a uniform with a swastika
armband. His companions join
in the song and end up giving
the Nazi salute. '
"Could we not see in German
movies the boycotting of Jewish
shops, the burning of Jewish
books; Jewish professionals bar-
red from practice; Jews - barred
from the , German army, forbid-
den to fly the German flag, to
hire a German maid or to marry
an Aryan; German universities
segregating Jewish students;
Jews, being, forCed, to register
their property, having. troube
With passports or, changing
names ...?


Stacy asserted that mankind
"will not believe that which is
too painful to live with." People
in the 1930s might have been
more, aware of , the inevitability
of what was coming,, if it had
not been such an unacceptable
What the Holocaust and
atomic destruction have in
common is "killing on a , mas-
sive, a horrendous , scale." The
distinction, he said, it that , "a
•death from acience comes from




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People .in the 1930s
might hilve been
•more 'aware of
inevitability of what
was coming; if it
had not been such
an unacceptable


above, from intellectuality, from
a divine abstraction of technol-,
ogy, a lofty experiment out of
But, he said, 'death from , the
Holocaust, "comes from "below,
from a subhuman instinct, a'
demonic 'master of ceremonies.
The scientific death --- and
atomic death -- is an intellec-
tual achievement; the Holocaust '
death is irrational, cannabalis-
• Films present the end of
civilization in many, ways, he
•claimed. Some are attempts , at
documentary-like catastrophe,
such' as The Day the Earth
Caught Fire. Others are ,
•science-fiction outer-space films,
notably Star Wars., Still others
are those portraying the' defeat
or destruction of civilization by
extra-terrestrials ; and an-
•dromeda strains from far dis-
tances, such as ' They Came from
•Outer Space.
Stacy , declared that "All of
these films create in our minds '
..visual images of a new kind of
,clbstruction. This is not destruc-
tion by floods, tornadoes or hur-
ricanes — which have always ,
been with us but images that
are projections or niateriliza-
tions of our own destructive
urges. ,





Copyright 1985, Jewish Telegraphic
Agency, Inc,

Auditions Open
For Scholarships,

The Detroit , Grand Opera
Association will hold auditions
for scholarship awards at 10
a.in. Nov. 9 and 10 at the Music
Application deadline is Oct,.
25. ; For an application, write
Mrs Páil E. Ewing, District
Auditiois Chairman, 32005
Farmington Hills,
48018, 477-8629 -r ...;


(Corner of 12 Mile Road)




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