As the first studio film to deal directly with the enormity of the Holocaust, made by the most commercially successful director in movie history, "Schindler's List" attempts to provide the popular imagination with a master narrative about the Holocaust. Challenging the limits of representation, Spielberg's 1993 film has become a media event, ...
As the first studio film to deal directly with the enormity of the Holocaust, made by the most commercially successful director in movie history, "Schindler's List" attempts to provide the popular imagination with a master narrative about the Holocaust. Challenging the limits of representation, Spielberg's 1993 film has become a media event, generating extensive discourse on the Holocaust and its mediation by popular culture in a way not seen in the United States since the NBC 1978 television series Holocaust. By now no one can deny the impact of Spielberg's film on an ever-growing viewing audience. Publicly celebrated with multiple Academy Awards and screened as an antidote to racism in New Jersey, the film has been widely acclaimed as a moving, powerful, and truthful depiction of historical atrocity, affirming the veracity of survivor testimony and historical documentation for a public in need of initiation or convincing. Released a few months after the inauguration of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Spielberg's film both capitalized on and contributed to current fascination with the Holocaust. Quenching public thirst for historical voyeurism, "Schindler's List" not only invites a renewed scholarly and intellectual discussion about the limits of representation, but also proves the necessity of such a discussion for a larger public. The critical and popular receptions of "Schindler's List" and the public conversations it has triggered in different national ethnic contexts touch upon a variety of issues: the representation of history by cinema and popular culture; the right to dramatize the unrepresentable; the relationship between public-popular memory; the role of national identity in the shaping and selective reception of popular memory; the place and role of the Holocaust in ongoing debates about racism and group hate; and the authority of popular culture, and Hollywood in particular, to retell and ultimately shape public perceptions of the Holocaust. Such questions are not easily answered. It is to provoke reflection on them that this interdisciplinary critical anthology, compiled of a dozen essays written by distinguished scholars in different fields, has been designed.
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