An article in today’s Wall

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal by Thane Rosenbaum really gets it wrong on the Holocaust, claiming, “The problem with ‘Schindler’s List’ is that the Holocaust is not about rescue and redemption, while the movie is. Indeed, there were rare occasions of virtue, but the calling card of the Nazis and their abetters was one of mass murder and moral failure. You can’t claim to make a Holocaust movie if an audience leaves its seat feeling hopeful about humanity. The impulse to honor the good in man is noble, but disingenuous and misapplied when depicting an atrocity.”

Does this mean Rosenbaum believes the extraordinary story of Nazi rogue-turned-rescuer Oscar Schindler should not be told, because it might make viewers feel hopeful? I really don’t understand this. It is a part of human nature, a longing in the soul of most of us, to find the beautiful and the good in the most evil and awful of circumstances. Tears still come to my eyes whenever I think of the NYC fire department chaplain administering last rites to the young firefighters moments before they rushed to their doom, falling debris then killing the chaplain as well. Should we not reflect on this and find some inspiration in it? Should we not, amid the unfathomable and ever-inexplicable horrors of the second world war, feel some hope for humanity, reading the diary of a young Dutch girl who met her fate in the death camps? No, I utterly disagree with Rosenbaum and wonder why the WSJ would give him such ample space to make his wobbly claims. His argument is weak on all levels. While “Schindler’s List” is definitely a story of hope and heroism, it is no feel-good movie. The depiction of the violence is stark, brutal, savage, invoking as much rage and horror as it does hope. And it is a story that absolutely merits being told. Schindler, for all his faults and vices, saved more Jews than any other German, and is the only member of the Nazi party declared by Israel to be “a righteous gentile.” Is this not the stuff of which great books and great films are made? More than any other film, “Schindler’s List” changed my life and moved me to read many, many other books on the Holocaust, its causes and its consequences. So please, if you really need to lecture us on what makes for bad movie stories, why not go after Porky’s or Rambo?

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