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Re-victimisation of Holocaust Survivors in the Contemporary Filmic Landscape - Essay Example

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Re-victimisation of Holocaust Survivors in the Contemporary Filmic Landscape

.. ever cut me as sharply, deeply, instantaneously” (Shandler 1999, 212). Susan Sontag reveals in this statement that Holocaust victims are chronically re-victimised by the manner they are represented in films. This paper is an attempt to discuss Sontag’s argument in relation to the documentary film Night and Fog. Night and Fog by Alain Resnais Night and Fog uses a French storyteller alongside contemporary perspectives and archival film recordings of the concentration camps. The documentary film also hosts several still photographs (Knobler 2008). A major issue explored in the film is the opposition between the desolated, wretched camps at present and the different atrocities they witnessed in the 1940s. A secondary issue is the manner in which the atrocious Nazis were not inherently distinct from other human beings in most cases. The documentary film is sketchy, and not strictly sequential. It opens up with vivid footages of present-day camp sites, a harmless environment populated with rubbles, abandoned buildings, and wild flowers. An unforgettable episode at the onset displays how the entry to the concentration camp looked like to a World captive (Aufderheide 2007). With a measured narrative style, the initial part of the film progresses from the first instances of Nazi power to arrest all over Europe, and the appalling realities of camp existence. Sprinkled with gruesome images from the 1940s are several photographs of present-day camps. They look like threadbare artefacts of a historic period. The last part of the documentary film emphasises the concentration camps as places of inhumane events and mass slaughter. Himmler then appears to readdress the intention of the concentration camps (Shandler 1999). The horrendous images of mass extermination are documented and shown in various ways: containers loaded with victims’ heads, partially incinerated remains in funeral pyres, and signs of struggles and pain on the inner entrails of the gas chambers. A haunting aerial photograph of a concentration camp in the 1940s confers a ghostly feeling of the immensity of the whole venture (Aufderheide 2007). The documentary film ends with images of the concentration camps being freed, and the perpetrators facing legal proceedings. The narrator afterwards informs the audience that this kind of inhumane desires and actions persist until now. Night and Fog fuses a controlled narrative style with memorable vivid photographs and scenes. Transitioning from archival footage to the current condition of these places of dread is remarkably successful. However, in spite of its power and influence, the documentary film raises a number of dilemmas. The general premise that resulted in the concentration camps is overlooked. Hence, the act of genocide presents a more methodical, but never an exceptional, concern for this subject matter. Susan Sontag, on a similar vein, sees this whole enterprise in a more reflective and scholarly way. Looking at Night and Fog through Susan Sontag’s Arguments It is the argument of this paper that there will always be a moment in the existence of a civilisation which will endure a tremendous predicament, where in there emerges a discourse of traumatic memory. The relevance of Susan Sontag’s argument to Night and Fog overcomes the factual allusion to specific experience of ...Show more


Re-victimisation of Holocaust Survivors in the Contemporary Filmic Landscape Introduction Filmmakers’ exploitation of the Holocaust as an underlying moral perspective assumes varied forms. In a number of cases, filmmakers’ use of the Holocaust has turned into an issue of fierce debate, illustrating the power of the film as a cultural instrument and the degree to which the Holocaust is depicted on screen has itself turned into a subject of public outcry…
Author : elissagutmann
Re-victimisation of Holocaust Survivors in the Contemporary Filmic Landscape essay example
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