Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust
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"a devastating, impressively reflective documentary" -The New York Times
Featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg, Sidney Lumet and other prominent filmmakers and historians, Imaginary Witness examines Hollywood's attitude towards one of the most horrific events in world history. Using rare newsreel footage as well as gripping clips from over forty films, this award-winning documentary explores how filmmakers and popular culture have portrayed the Holocaust over the past 60 years.
Narrated by Gene Hackman - A Film by Daniel Anker - As Seen on AMC
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A must-see, with two caveats:
First, most of the movies and TV programs mentioned in this documentary are either completely unavailable or are being scalped for exorbitant prices so that very few will be able to see them. War And Remembrance for example, is only available on Amazon for $166. This is unconscionable..
Second, this documentary does not mention the growing number of Holocaust deniers who claim that it either never happened or has been greatly exaggerated. I have heard Rush Limbaugh, for example, insist that probably only a few hundred thousand were killed, and that the gas chambers an ovens are a hoax invented by Jewish liberals after the war. They maintain also that much of the film footage was faked. This view is shared by many others in right-wing media, and a growing number of Americans, especially young people, are adopting.
Yet, there were some compelling portrayal of life under the Nazis and how it affected the Jews. Movies like The Mortal Storm with Jimmy Stewart told the story of a respectable, upper middle class Jewish family in Germany and how the anti-semitic movement in Germany under Hitler and the Nazis affects them. There are also movies like The great Dictator starring Charlie Chaplin [who funded the movie himself], playing dual roles of a Jewish barber and a parody of Hitler. It was in the Great Dictator that the word "Jew" is first referenced in a Hollywoood production [even in the Mortal Storm, the phrase "non-Aryan" is used when referencing Jews].
This is a well-researched documentary and for someone like me who is keen on anything to do with the Holocaust and WW II history, I found it to be a minefield of interesting historical facts and trivia. I made a list of classic movies that I plan to look up and add to my library - movies like "To Be or Not to Be", starring Carole Lombard [a comedic attack on Nazi ideology], None Shall Escape , The Search , and Singing in the Dark .
Besides covering the classic movies dealing with the Holocaust, there are also references to more contemporary productions such as Schindler's List, Sophie's Choice, War and Remembrance [1988 mini-series], and of course Holocaust [1978 mini-series].
A must-watch documentary for those interested in the Holocaust and Hollywood's depiction of it through the years.