Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Playing Genocide

At Café Turco: History as written by other people, on Srebrenica and a gross misrepresentation of history in the drama film Resolution 819.

Related, in the New York Times: Never Forget. You’re Reminded, A.O. Scott on film dramatisations of the Holocaust.

Also on dramatising horrors of recent history, two earlier posts on this blog: Narcissus at the movies, on Hiroshima mon amour, and Narcissus at the movies 2, on The Lives of Others.


Sarah Franco said...

the article on new york times is very very interesting. my favorites, the pianist, and for the books, fateless (I didn't watch the film, but I read that the film is not so good as the book).

cinema and collective memory, fascinating topic.

(thanks for the link)

kellie said...

I haven't seen The Pianist. With most films like these I tend to find it difficult looking at an actor, costumed and made up, in a carefully designed scene, giving an emotional performance, playing at suffering. Too much art, too much pretty craftsmanship.

And I am constantly wondering, is that true, is this true, and why is that music telling me what to think and feel?

In the trailer you posted I had very much that sort of reaction towards the actress playing the distressed woman screaming. I want to be told facts, and the rest I am already too capable of imagining. To watch someone else's imagining of it seems grotesque, an obscuring of my view.

An odd exception to this reaction for me was watching Grave of the Fireflies, a Japanese animated film about two children who experience the firebombing of Tokyo. No actors' faces, drawn in a clear Tintin style, and animated very simply.

I suppose it's like a play with masks, removing to some degree the vanity of the actor from the performance.

Have you seen Hiroshima mon amour? It's very much about these difficulties.

Sarah Franco said...

no, I haven't seen hiroshima mon amour.

i understand your point, for a while I had great difficulty watching war movies because of what you are saying.

there is a poem by fernando pessoa taht says this (Autopsychography)

The poet is a pretender
He pretends so completely
That he even pretends that it is pain
The pain that he truly feels

that's the essence of art... but between real art and mere manipulation of our emotions there is, of course, a difference.

but have you read 'fateless'? only through art you can get the kind of understanding about the Holocaust that imre kertez gives you on that book. the second book in that series, Fiasco, he goes deep into he use of the holocaust in art...

I qualify the pianist as the anti-'schindler's list'. I don't like shindler's list, I think it manipulates or emotions in a very basic way, it touches us, but only superficially. the pianist shakes us to the core, but it doesn't exploit our emotions.

I usually get much more impressed by written descriptions of atrocities, by facts, as you mention, but emotions do contribute to shape our conscience and our reasoning, rational values such as justice and solidarity are deeple embedded in emotions. for instance it's natural that you feel outraged with injustice. of course that makes it a target for manipulators, but it's there that the rational part comes in...