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Monday, February 16, 2009

A Readerly Article about The Reader

Here is an article condemning The Reader from Ron Rosenbaum, who currently writers for Slate. He spent over a decade researching his acclaimed book Explaining Hitler, and has spent a good deal of his life trying to debunk indulgent psycho and sexual analysis about, and demystify the perpetual fascination that the West has with Hitler.

I do disagree with Rosenbaum with Rosenbaum on two points about two other films he mentions. Life is Beautiful has its flaws, but I think that it gets undue criticism because of the off-screen antics of its star. I don't have time to go into too much of my defense here, but you have to view it not as a verisimilar account in the slightest but as a subjective fantasia on the unfathomable cruelty of one child's experience seen in retrospect. I also think Rosenbaum over simplifies the troublesome aspects of Downfall by dismissing the entire film rather than to look at warts and all. I'd love to read his reaction to The Unborn, which also has its own aspects of Nazi porn, from what I understand. The first wave of Nazisploitation was pretty flamboyant about what it was, a grindhouse Guignol and a poor man's de Sadean collage of violence and sex, at times simultaneously. This second wave is far more sinister, in that it is not immediately seen as exploitation and is not explicit to the films initial exposition. A film I saw recently which does this was the French Horror film Frontiere(s), which tries to posit itself as a film about facism and recent French politics, but in case you didn't get that they tack on a sadistic Nazi doctor and his crazy ideological ilk half-way into the film, making sure we see all of the requisite allusions to incest, eugenics, and explicit scenes of violence against women and children, which the film tells us is OK because she gets away in the end and throws a guy onto a table saw.

If my comparison of The Reader to Isla, She Wolf of the SS seemed harsh, Alonso Duralde of MSNBC has made the same comparison.
Maybe he reads the blog?

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