5 films about the Holocaust

 

With Holocaust Memorial day coming up, schools might want to show a historical film.  Sometimes, parents complain that history films rated 15 are shown to kids too young to see them in the cinema, but there are great films on the Holocaust that are suitable for all ages.

Now, I’ve seen more than five films on this topic, a lot have been made. I have chosen the five that I think are most informative, from a teaching point of view and from a learner’s. These teach language, they teach history, most importantly, they help us understand why.

1. The music box. (1989)

So, this one is rated 15, partially because of the language.  However, it’s not for the same reasons that most Eszterhas scripts may not be suitable for children.  It has some harsh language, and some graphic retellings, but I think if it were made later, it would have had a 12 rating.

The screenwriter has his name behind some of the biggest stinkers of my teenage years.  But, according to his memoir, he didn’t like Jade or Showgirls. And The Music Box was different.

Music Box is among the films he’s most proud of. It’s based on his experiences among Hungarian refugees, some of which were anti-semitic, others who just seemed to be anti-communist.  He wrote it to condemn the criminals, to tell the world about a story that he grew up not even knowing himself as a Hungarian American.

The story behind the film, and what happened afterwards in Eszterhas’ life make the film even more interesting to watch.  In the film, the protagonist has to defend a father that she finds out is guilty.  Later, the screenwriter found out his own father was wanted for war crimes.

Jessica Lange points out that Costa Gavras doesn’t just do a master and coverage, but actually uses the camera to tell the story.  Costa Gavras’ masterful directing is apparent in the first half of the story, but as the plot moves along we can see that the production has been rushed somewhat. Eszterhas apparently wrote a script that was too long (he cheated the margins) and so they had to do a lot of last minute rewrites in order to stay on budget and schedule.

Despite this flaw, the film is still excellent, and very informative about how trials were conducted afterwards. We see a few points of view here, how people could cover things up, and Hungary’s part in the massacre.

4. The round up, or Le Raffle (2010)

Why did the Jews just seem to go without resisting? What about the population who sat there and did nothing?

This tells the story of France’s Jews, how they were rounded up, and the people who showed kindness to them on the way. Not everyone knew they were going to death camps, if they did, guns would not have contained them. People tried to help, but it didn’t work against an organised machine.

We hear anecdotes said by many different characters, hearing points of view and learning snippets of history.  Even though it’s hard to pick out a main character, it is easy to follow.  It’s also useful for learning French, if only you could turn off the subtitles.

3. Life is Beautiful, La vita è bella (1997)

This film is in italian. It’s a comedy, and as such, it doesn’t pretend to be an accurate depiction of history. However, this satire allows us to see the philosophy behind fascism, as it pokes fun at it.

I showed this to my own children, and it was a good starting point for teaching history.  Highly recommended.

2. Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

This is the first holocaust film I saw as a child. It shows the story from the point of view of a girl hiding away, who has the innocence of not knowing what will happen next.

I don’t remember it well, but I remember the power of the feeling, the way you could understand exactly what the characters were going through.  There have been other adaptations of the same events, but I think the one made 1959 is by far the most powerful.

1. Night and Fog (1956)

This is a short documentary, no actors, no physical presenter. We see the place it happened, and maybe a few old photographs. It’s as if we’re on location, being given a guided tour of where it happened. Our guide, we don’t even see our guide, narrates not only the events, but details the economics and actions behind it, like the fact that construction companies put in tenders to build the place.  This no doubt influenced other films on the Holocaust, which use such details to illuminate the story.

Armistice Day films

The 11th of November is known as Remembrance Sunday here in Britain, and Memorial Day in America.  What the day was originally celebrating was the armistice, the end of the first World War (then only known as the great war.)  With the end of hostilities, and the war officially over, there was an illusion of a time of peace.

Unfortunately, that war had a sequel.  Not only did it have a sequel, but three months after the armistice, Berlin was aflame.  The cold war had already begun, even before the armistice, as Lenin and his enemies plunged Russia into a bloody civil war (ironically started because Lenin didn’t want to waste lives on the war in Europe.)

In any case, to understand the past, there are a few films worth watching. Continue reading Armistice Day films

Columbus Day

Columbus day has long been 👏🏿👏🏻👏🏼celebrated👏👏🏾👏🏽 in the 🇺🇸 United States, 🇪🇸 Spain and throughout Latin America.🇳🇮🇲🇽🇭🇳🇬🇹🇩🇴🇪🇨🇸🇻🇩🇲🇨🇼🇦🇷🇸🇷🇻🇨🇱🇨🇵🇷🇺🇾🇻🇪🇻🇮🇹🇹

🇨🇦Canada celebrates Discovery Day, which is the same in principal. 🇧🇷

🇮🇹🇯🇲🇧🇲🇧🇧

While Columbus Day was not made “official” until President Roosevelt made a proclamation in the late 1930s, its history goes back centuries.

Although the Renaissance and the age of Exploration were well underway before Columbus set sail, historians proclaim the year 1492 to be the end of the middle ages and the start of modern times.  His voyage symbolically took Europe out of isolation and brought forth a new, global age. Continue reading Columbus Day

Aliens in the attic

Why is Aliens in the Attic a masterwork?

Okay, first of all, it’s poster sucks.  Probably the worst movie poster I’ve seen that wasn’t for some kind of bad video game adaptation.  The first impression you get from this film is that it’ll be a really cheap video game movie, or worse still, a knock off of a video game movies.

33% Rotten Tomatoes, 91% google Users.  Wow, that’s a pretty big spread. Continue reading Aliens in the attic

Evan Almighty

Religion has a huge element of why people don’t like this film.  Some people like religion, but it’s often hard to like a film about it, especially a comedy.  Is it making fun of your religion?  And at the same time, criticising you for not being religious enough.

“I go to church every week.”  they look at her.  “Every other week.”  More stares.  “I’ve been to church.”

Now, religious films sometimes get high ratings, but this appears to be a Christian film.  Almost a “faith based” film.  It’s not about the Buddha, or some exotic religion.  Orientalist film critics get bored of the religion of their grandmothers.  It’s like watching a “Humble and Kind” music video.

Not only does this film cover religion, it’s like a sermon.  God himself talks about “acts of random kindness.”

Now, for the critics who like religion in films, even Christianity, this can be offensive.  It can even seem like blasphemy, putting words in the mouth of God that aren’t in the Bible. Continue reading Evan Almighty

Benchwarmers (2006)

The second in our series of underrated masterworks is Benchwarmers.

Why critics hate: Benchwarmers.
Reminds them of their own lack of skill at sports.  And, rather than gaining the skill to win a game through some crazy routine, they kind of stay mediocre.  Ouch.  As the film title says “reality bites.”

Rather than getting revenge, the nerds merely make peace with their enemy.  And, with the sun.

Critics prefer films in which the outsiders aren’t shown to be truly nerdy, but kind of beefed up, like they are in the film-within-a-film at the end of Disney’s Chicken Little. Continue reading Benchwarmers (2006)

Underrated masterworks

What is a masterwork?  It’s like, a really good film, right?

I started to debate the meaning of masterworks at university.  In the essays titles to choose from, one was, “The Greatest Masterworks are also some of the most immoral.”

Something like that.  I didn’t necessarily agree with the films chosen in “Masterworks of the cinema.”  I think included in the curriculum were Battleship Potemkin, Triumph of the Will, some gory horror film, Bring Me The Head of Garcia Alfredo, and a few other movies that I didn’t like either.  Some of these films could be called immoral, but masterworks?  I would have chosen different films.

So, I guess I’ll start a series of reviews called Underrated masterworks. Continue reading Underrated masterworks

The Sorrows of Deirdre

So, I had a film called “The Sorrows of Deirdre.”  I noticed something interesting.  Depending on who I pitch it to, my pitch changes.

LinkedIn Pitch:

It’s called “The Sorrows of Deirdre” and it’s based on Celtic mythology. Deirdre has been cursed with such beauty, that men’s desires her threatens to divide Ireland. To settle the issue, she’s promised to the King.

But, Deirdre falls in love with Naoise, and flees with him to Scotland. Their adventures with the natives seem almost more dangerous than staying in Ireland. And, as Naoise and his family grow homesick, it seems that one of the king’s servants can persuade him to return.

However, Deirdre’s prophetic dreams tell her than the return means certain death for her love.

Stage32 pitch:

LOGLINE:Some wish for knowledge. Others desire beauty. She was cursed with both.

SYNOPSIS:

Deirdre can dream about the future, but she can’t change it on her own. All men pretend to want to please her, but none listen. So her fate is to witness the destruction of one of the greatest kingdoms in the ancient world.

When Deirdre finds an prophetic amulet, her dreams lead to the handsome Naoise. However, she had been promised to the king from a young age. In order to save Naoise and his family, Deirdre and her new in-laws are forced to flee.

Unfortunately, the locals don’t take to Naoise and his brothers. They battle savage pics, and strange Britons, but most dangerous of all are devious druids who play to their homesickness.