The Holocaust on Hollywood Screen Essay Example

Since the late 1940s, filmmakers from different parts of the world have depicted the tragic, brutal, and inhuman repressions of the Holocaust with the help of various art forms. Moreover, many films were awarded for accurate, adequate, and veritable representation of the horrific realities of the Holocaust. The purpose of the essay is to review the Hollywood version of the Holocaust. In other words, the paper will analyze and evaluate the depiction of the Holocaust in movies, as the Hollywood films about this tragedy have been the most famous and influential in bringing this event to the attention of people around the globe. Additionally, based on the most celebrated Hollywood movies, this paper will examine and evaluate humane and sympathetic attitudes towards Jewish people.

Hollywood and the Holocaust

The phenomenon of the Holocaust deals with the systematic, durable, both state-initiated and sponsored persecution, cruel treatment, and murder of approximately six million of Jewish people by the adherents and collaborators of the Nazi regime. It is rather important to emphasize that the Nazis, who managed to gain the power on the territory of Germany in January 1933, supported the basic idea the people of German origin were a superior race. Because of such tendencies and theories, the Jews were usually persecuted under numerous ideological and behavioral motives. At the beginning of 1933, the Jewish population on the territory of Europe reached over nine million inhabitants. However, by the end of 1945, the Nazis and their collaborators murdered nearly two out of three people of Jewish origin.

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The Holocaust is considered to be one of the most painful and emotionally charged themes in the modern history of the world. Therefore, this topic is widely taught is schools and colleges, and even mandated for investigation and study by the state governments of numerous countries around the world. Besides, because the Holocaust in the modern world history is a fatal, cruel, and inhuman event, numerous filmmakers from different parts of the globe depicted the peculiarities of this tragic event in fiction and documentary movies. It is assumed that the successive generations will be able to understand the tragic moments of the history with the help of the documented files, testimonies of eyewitnesses, literature sources, and fiction as well as non-fiction movies. More importantly, the Hollywood movies have enough power to ensure a unique opportunity to the viewers to experience the past and witness the tragic event of murder and outrage upon personal dignity of six million Jews. Moreover, the researchers have proved that the majority of people are more willing to observe and hear the information about the Holocaust, rather than to read about it in periodicals or books.

The cumulative effect of the Holocaust movies aims at establishing a continuous image of this tragic event in mass mind. Moreover, the Holocaust films subconsciously make this massive murder of the Jews more meaningful and strong to the audience. These movies strive at placing the facts of violation of human rights, persecutions, and massive murders of six million of innocent people in the appropriate historical context, underlining “unsuccessful” attempts to divide people into superior and inferior. As a result, because of the emotional tension and difficulty of the Holocaust topic, movies prevail over books in numerous ways. First of all, movies are characterized by more significant visual as well as visceral power. Secondly, usually movies make the particular historical study seem more immediate, comprehensible, and relevant. Finally, movies subconsciously motivate the viewers to manifest compassion for those, who were subjected to distress, persecution, violation of their dignity, and murder. As a result, having analyzed such sensitive themes like the Holocaust, it is possible to draw a conclusion that the Holocaust movies will certainly facilitate the perception of a so-called “difficult forms of knowledge.” As a product of the meticulous society, the Holocaust movies manifest the attitudes and thoughts of the public.

The Most Popular Hollywood Movies about the Holocaust

Not all American filmmakers decided to reflect the darkest, the most severe and unfair realities and consequences of World War II, such as concentration camps, ghettos, mass murders, and exterminations of the Jews. However, such Hollywood studio productions as Exodus, Cabaret as well as Ship of Fools and some others have successfully produced large number of masterpieces connected with the Holocaust tragedy. It is worth mentioning that the Hollywood films that reflect the Holocaust theme perform multiple functions. The primary focus of these movies deals with the manifestation of massive persecutions of the Jewish people, whose origin was treated as inferior and disdainful.

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Despite the fact that the researchers disagree whether the Holocaust should be represented in movies, the filmmakers usually debate how this tragedy should be displayed. In other words, the majority of researchers have some doubts whether they should omit or add all the details that were typical of the Holocaust tragedy. However, the leading and the most significant purpose of every movie, including the Holocaust films, is to preserve the details. Furthermore, each filmmaker has to take into consideration that the essence, the course and the consequences of the Holocaust event shall not be distorted or altered. Unfortunately, numerous films describe the entire Holocaust process in an inadequate and inappropriate way. Documentary movies that encourage the eyewitnesses to participate in the process of shooting a film, are considered to be more truthful and accurate. For instance, Elie Wiesel, a woman who has managed to survive the Holocaust and has witnessed hundreds of deaths, confesses that neither hopeful words nor any other verbal means are powerful enough to embrace the totality of this tragic event. Only those, who participated or witnessed the suffering of people in concentration camps, humiliations, violation of personal dignity, and mass murders, can describe and evaluate the Holocaust in an objective and veracious manner.

Despite the fact, that numerous films about the Holocaust continue to be shot nowadays, many postwar fiction as well as documentary movies, including The Diary of Anne Frank, and The Grey Zone remain extremely popular in the modern society. Moreover, numerous other prominent Hollywood movies are kept deep inside the hearts of those, who are not indifferent to that tragedy. Moreover, the list of films that represent and describe in details the heartless and brutal Holocaust themes enriches every year.

For instance, the Hollywood film A Call to Remember, produced in 1997, describes people who have managed to survive the Holocaust tragedy. It is important to stress that this movie plays an irreplaceable role in the history of the Holocaust, as shares the experience of the event with several successive generations. Therefore, the survivors of this brutal and inhumane event are recommended to proliferate only truthful and adequate information about the tragedy, as this will ensure the unique opportunity for the offspring to know the truth and to sympathize those victims, who were treated brutally, persecuted, captured, and even killed.

The Hollywood movie The Diary of Anne Frank describes the events that happen on the territory of the Nazi-occupied Holland during the period of the Holocaust. According to the plot of the film, the whole family of Otto Frank makes an instant decision to find a hiding place because of the increasing persecutions against the Jewish people. The main theme of this film is closely intertwined with the prejudice, inferiority, and mass annihilation of the Jews. One more Hollywood film, named Divided We All, manifests the personal stories of those who were persecuted and killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. This movie takes an important place in the world history and culture, as it reflects and evaluates the complicated as well as biased attitudes and relationships among the victims of the World War II.

The Hollywood movie Everything Is Illuminated reveals the story of American Jew, who makes a decision to go for a trip to Ukraine with the primary purpose of meet his grandfather. Moreover, the Jewish American hopes that this unusual trip will provide an opportunity for him to increase the awareness of the wide-ranging tragedy that have taken the lives of approximately six million Jews.

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The movie, named The Grey Zone, directed by T. B. Nelson, is based on the plot of one of the books written by M. Nyiszli. This film aims at revealing the tragic story of the prisoners, who are captured in concentration camps in 1944. The captives of that concentration camp are forced to spy on the victims, to bring them to gas chambers, and then to burn the bodies of those people in the ovens. This movie has gained a considerable success and international recognition, as it has received the Freedom of Expression Award in 2002. It is rather important to emphasize that the issue of taking children and transporting them away from their parents was not a rare phenomenon. Moreover, the majority of Jewish parents were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to save their daughters and sons.

Numerous films, including Into the Arms of Strangers, showed unfortunate and unhappy moments of separation of parents and their children in the period of the Holocaust. This movie is based on the processes of transportation of children to Great Britain and especially to England.
According to the plot of the movie that is based on real facts, British families save more than ten thousand Jewish children, since the leadership of the country has passed a decision to provide shelter to the victims of the Holocaust. Children are offered foster homes as well as asylums with good-quality living conditions, giving them an exclusive chance to start from the very beginning, and to forget the Holocaust nightmare. At the same time, parents of Jewish origin make decisions to entrust the offspring to the unknown individuals in order to save them.
The filmmaker of Into the Arms of Strangers has made a successful attempt to prove that no nationality in the entire world is superior and, furthermore, has the moral right to suppress other nationalities. In addition, the film has served as a bright example of the moral society, showing many sympathetic, kind-hearted, and good-natured people who are not afraid to peril their lives in order to give others a chance to live.

The movie My Knees Were Jumping: Remember the Kindertransport also focuses of the topic of separation of children from their relatives. Furthermore, the movie has encouraged the participation of witnesses of the Holocaust tragedy. It should be stressed that this film is extraordinary and exceptional, as it involves the interviews of the eyewitnesses as well as the rescuers of the Holocaust event. Besides, enormous number of archival documents, interviews, and photographs are presented in this movie.
Besides, the film The Pawnbroker, which was shown to the public in 1965 for the first time, is a unique art representation of the Holocaust. It portrays a negative impact of humiliations, murders, and shootings in concentrations camps on the future fate of the survivors of the fabricated tragedy, which was artificially created by the Nazi regime with the purpose to annihilate the Jewish people. This movie attempts to provide evidence that many people, who have managed to escape the death in concentration camps, usually suffer from numerous severe forms of post-traumatic stress disorders.

The movie named Judgment at Nuremberg, released in 1961, is one of the most famous American drama films that is based on the topic of the Holocaust and openly reveals the brutal crimes that were committed against the innocent civilians. This picture, created and directed by S. Kramer, depicts wartime persecutions and the genocide of the European Jews. Moreover, the movie touches the ambiguous topic of the breach of law, discrimination of social and racial groups with the purpose to prove that some ethnicities and races should be treated as inferior in comparison to the others. Finally, it is worth mentioning that this Hollywood film is to some extent exclusive and notable, as it manifests human perfidy, falseness, and moral compromise in severe and unstable times of harsh political upheaval. In addition, it is considered to be one of the first Hollywood movies that is purposed to demonstrate the actual footage of American as well as British soldiers after their durable liberation of numerous concentration camps, established by the Nazi regime. Taking into consideration the selection process that was conducted by the Library of Congress, the movie should be treated as culturally and aesthetically significant.

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In addition, the Hollywood movie Playing for Time describes the personal life of the female prisoner F. Fenelon and her experience in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Hanna’s War depicts the truthful story of Hannah Szenes that is captured by the Nazi collaborators who suffers from enormous amount of severe and inhuman tortures before the Germans make a decision to murder her.
Escape from Sobibor reflects the story of the largest and the most successful rebellions, carried out by Jewish prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. Besides, numerous uprisings were conducted at Auschwitz and Treblinka. In addition, the movie To be or Not to Be tells the story of actors on the territory of the Nazi-occupied Warsaw tried to fool and amuse the hostile occupying troops. Nowadays, To Be or Not To Be is regarded as one of the greatest and the most successful Hollywood films that blames the brutality, savagery, and outrage of the Nazi regime in a so-called “humorous way”. In addition, the critics praise this movie, since it satirically criticizes the ridiculous ideology of the Nazi regime and its proponents. Despite the fact that the actors and the other staff that participated in the process of shooting were at risk, they successfully managed to portray the rudeness and superiority of this regime realistically and through the satire. It should be noted that the movie has gained popularity in international arena and has become a sophisticated comedy classic. Moreover, it is believed that this complicated but timely satire is unbiased and truthful, and accurately balances on the verge of humor and ethics. In 2000 the movie received the recognition of the American Film Institute.

As a result, having analyzed the notion of the Holocaust in the most successful Hollywood movies that manifest the persecutions, humiliations, tortures, shootings, and murders of approximately six million Jews, it is possible to draw a conclusion that movie-making art gives a unique chance to people to understand the victims of the Holocaust tragedy. Movie images naturally and truthfully reproduce the tragic events and subconsciously make people sympathize the victims. Besides, successful filmmakers are experienced and skilled to create a so-called protective shield that “immunizes” the viewers from the paralyzing effect of the manifested the nightmares of the Holocaust.

Moreover, in general, films completely transform the Holocaust memory that is shared by the successive generations. Hollywood Holocaust Films incorporate melodramatic scenarios with real events that usually get a lot of attention from the viewers. Furthermore, these films demonstrate heroism and villainy, risk and survival, mortal danger as well as safely. Besides, these films depict sympathy, kind-heartedness, inner emotions, love, and willingness to risk and to sacrifice. However, American cinematography was largely influenced by the art works of European filmmakers.

Such priceless Hollywood movies as The Diary of Anne Frank, To Be or Not To Be, Escape from Sobibor, Playing for Time and others, will definitely transform the ways people understand and, consequently, provide a feedback to the world that surrounds them. Hollywood movies about the Holocaust tragedy alter political, social, behavioral, and cultural attitudes. Each of these movies is a so-called driving force of imagination that is purposed to educate every indifferent person. Finally, it is important to remember that the Hollywood movies on the topic of the Holocaust have succeeded in awakening the mass mind or a popular consciousness, and in making this tragedy meaningful for the future generations.