?Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust? by Annette Insdorf is a substantial well informed comprehensive overview of the concerns with major films either dealing directly with the Holocaust or with the Holocaust as background. Any serious cineaste or film connoisseur will find value in the films explicated and comments put forth in the book.
The book highlights virtually every film that deals with the period of history when the Nazi rise to power in Germany lead to the genocidal actions against the Jewish people. She lays out the way that directors seek and establish an appropriate film language through montage, editing, story, metaphor, sound, music, pacing and other means. She lays out the Hollywood version of such films as ?Judgment at Nuremberg?, ?The Wall?, and ?Sophie?s Choice?.
She looks at how montage, especially the character point of view and how it re-tells story in ?The Pawnbroker?, the film that while not only deals with the emotional after effects of the Holocaust, but also makes a statement on the conditions of other outcasts in Harlem, New York City.
Insdorf also brings to light how black humor in films such as the Jack Benny driven vehicle ?To Be or Not To Be?, create an element of distance from a serious subject and allow us to view the events of the Holocaust from a different angle.
Insdorf?s writing is lean and short on verbosity. She deals with Holocaust Films by first examining narrative strategies or how film directors will approach telling their stories. Within this part of the book she talks about a number of different film scenarios that successfully relate the theme of the Holocaust.
She talks about François Truffaut?s wonderful film ?The Last Metro? with the luminous Catherine Deneuve and commanding Gérard Depardieu. The film deals with the Nazi occupation of France through the metaphor of the Theatre, and its actors and producers. The film captures great performances by Deneuve and Depardieu under the fine direction of Truffaut.
Insdorf also sheds light on themes that Holocaust filmmakers develop such as the idea that the Nazi domination could be evaded. ?The Garden of the Finzi-Continis? with its central metaphor of the supposed enclosed exclusive community and the sense of denial of the oppression at work is clearly explained.
Insdorf also talks about some of the not-so-popular films about this period such as ?The Night Porter? with Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde and its sense of condemnation and doom, and ?The Man in the Glass Booth? and how it deals with ambiguity of identity and identification of the Jews and Nazis.
She also talks about the sense of guilt of the Germans in the film ?The Tin Drum?, a film of great metaphorical power, and the singular performance of the main actor David Bennet. The film was enormously popular and based on a best seller by Gunter Grass.
If you are seeking a fine compendium of specialized films on a touchy subject this book will give you plenty of fact-based opinion form an expert in the field and has other notes to lead you to your own study of Holocaust films.
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