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June 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 12 Jun 1994 16:33:07 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Peter Feng writes:
We see Schindler going to the Nazi bureaucracy, INSISTING that he must
have these particular women back.  The Nazis respond, any other women can
do the work.  And if we are to accept Schindler as humanitarian, then we
must wonder whether it is important that Schindler saves any Jews, any
specific number of Jews, or these particular Jews.  (I suppose it could
be argued that these particular women are important because they are
related to the particular men who have already been saved... but that
argument has its own problematic and perhaps offensive dimensions.)
In response:  It is a problematic moment that you cite, but perhaps the
point being made is that Schindler had pretty much promised these particular
women (who had been working for him for quite a while) that they would be
safe in Czechoslovakia, thus making the rerouting to Auschwitz even more
In actuality, the situation was even more complicated, since the trainload
of male workers had also been rerouted to a (different) death camp.  The
situation with the children was still more complex.  This is all detailed
in the BBC documentary SCHINDLER, from the 1980s, which was making the rounds
of the independent tv stations close to Oscar time.  It too took a lot from
Kenneally's book, though it purports to be fact, where the book is a novel.
All of this raises interesting questions about the relationship between
history, fiction and "truth."  BTW, I was glancing the other day at
Nikki Giovanni's book of essays, RACISM 101, in which she rips apart Lee's
MALCOLM X and imagines her own vision of such a film project.  Some of her
criticisms are on the mark, some at least arguable and one at least is off
the wall:  She cites the scene toward the end with school children evoking
Malcolm's name and creeds to note that we (the audience? blacks?) don't
need a "doofus" school teacher to bring the point home.  That may or may not
be true, but this talented and articulate African American writer somehow
neglected to see that the "doofus" in question was actually Nelson Mandela!