Bernhard Schlink’s 1995 novel “The Reader” is similar to the film version of the same name and directed by Stephen Daldry in 2008 when the protagonist Michael Berg visits New York City towards the very end of the novel, and the film. The novel’s setting is in the 1960s…
Hanna Schmitz was a guard during the raid and she reportedly refused, with other guards, to do the most honorable thing of opening the door of the church during the inferno and thereby all the women in the church were burnt to death, except Ilana Mather’s mother.
I prefer the novel version of The Reader as the original prose and setting is not corrupted by the film version that was produced much later thereby eroding the originality of the story. The setting of the film is in present day while the book’s setting is in the post-Holocaust era. The characters and dialogue in the film fall short of the Bernhard Schlink’s characters and dialogue of 1960s as Stephen Daldry’s characters and dialogue are more modernized and fail to spark the embers created by Schlink’s characters and dialogue of the original setting and prose. In the film, we vividly encounter a very remorseful Hanna who is more determined to be forgiven, but Michael and Ilana are portrayed as vengeful characters who do not forgive.
Overall, both versions of the scene have a number of similarities. Michael Berg both in the novel and in the film travels to New York City to visit the daughter of the Holocaust survivor in the church inferno. In both versions, Hanna Schmitz who is a former guard is depicted as an inhumane character who is deeply ashamed by her illiteracy. Hanna Schmitz is responsible for the psychological suffering of both Michael Berg and The Daughter of the Holocaust survivor in both versions. The themes of truth and reconciliation also feature prominently in the two versions of Michael’s visit to New York City. Loss, as a theme, is also present in the two versions as in the novel and in the film Michael recounts how he has lost his life due to Hanna while the daughter of the Holocaust survivor takes the possession of the tin that Michael had brought as a remembrance of ...
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