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nazi power in story-filmmaking

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Nazi Power for Storytelling

Nancy Cohen/koan

Oh those Nazis! Can’t  get enough of them.  That they continue to fascinate is both a curse and blessing. We all contain enough s/m tendencies to want to understand them better and of course, the Holocaust should never be forgotten,  especially when certain world despots would like to see that happen.

In Darkness, directed by Agnieska Holland, tells the story of a righteous Pole (Robert Wieckiewicz as Leopold Socho) who helps a group of Jews survive in a dark and putrid sewer in Lvov, Poland.  They have been evacuated from the ghetto and he discovers them by accident. It starts out as a pure monetary proposition; everyone made money from the Jews’ dilemma in times that are unimaginable to even the most depressed New Yorker . But then Socho begins to feel their plight emotionally; perhaps it’s when his wife tells him that Jesus too was a Jew, a fact that he had never before considered. But as time goes on, fourteen months of helping and risking his own life and that of his family; he develops real caring for this rag tag group of survivors.  It’s to be commended that Holland makes no one a saint; the Jewish survivors comprise adulterers and thieves as well as a professor who speaks lovingly of Heinrich Heine.  Benno Furmann plays the Jewish hero, Pirate, who smirks continually through the film; though his blue eyes are a great asset in defying the idea of the perfect Aryan.  Mostly the Poles are indifferent and perhaps in their own way as shocked as the audience is in watching what is happening to them. That they are quick to take advantage of the Jews’ plight speaks  to their own starvation and to centuries of Church disseminated anti-semitism.

But the Nazis are dependably cruel.  The soldiers make old religious men dance on a box as easily as shoot a child with their mother. Holland never excuses these soldiers who seemto have invented new levels of cruelty and sadism.

The one problem with the film is that I never really believed the moment when the Polish hero and the Jews connect in their humanity.  It was displayed via a child’s birth, but didn’t feel real or true.  Still, it is the Nazis and the war’s darkness, not the sewer, to which the film speaks and the miracle, that within all this madness and darkness , one man could  still find his inner light.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo also depends on the Nazi’s barbarity to drive this oddly femininist action film. The first Swedish version, based on the book by Larrsson was intriguing and David Fincher’s is fast, bright and even more cinematic. And what intrigues here are Swedish Nazis; those who have taken their admiration for the Fuhrer and kept the little flame alive by perpetrating diabolical acts on women, many construed as Jewish by the films’s hero Lizbeth  Salander(Rooney Mara) and her ‘helper’,  Mikael Blomquist (Daniel Craig).

Malcolm Mclaren in my own film “Malcolm McLaren – Not For Sale”, talks of the commodification of the planet by the Nazis and their deep understanding of media and branding.  And so it with the descendants.  Race is always involved, but early sexual cruelty seems to lead to an urge to re-enact such horrors on others, once the victim is no longer a child and has his own power. That Salander, who has been maltreated all her life by a cruel system and neglect, learns to show softness and caring, may speak to the great power of the feminine unleashed … unfortunately for Herr Hitler and the rest of humanity, his feminine was projected horribly on his niece and others. Redemption was not at all on his to do list.

Written by nancykoan

December 20, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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