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February 1994


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Andrew Gordon <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 7 Feb 1994 00:44:08 EST
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One screen-l participant remarked that he was not horrified or moved by
the scenes of slaughter in Schindler's List because they consisted of
unknown people killing unknown people rather than horrible things being
done to characters we know.  This seems to ignore the
human response to the slaughter of the innocents, whether these innocent
victims are known to us or not; thus the wrenching effect of many war
photos or Holocaust documentaries.  Consider also a fiction film such as
The Killing Fields, which, like Schindler, is based on a true story:
both concern massacres, which by their nature involve anonymous masses
being mowed down.  Or consider the massacre scene in Ghandi, also based on
a historical incident.  Audiences cannot help but be horrified by the
brutality, even if the charactersare unknown and the scene removed from
us by distance, time, and foreign culture.  Similarly, the casual violence
in Schindler is appalling because it is evil against good.  Schindler
contains one shocking scene of graphic, surreal violence after another.
Some of the most disturbing are in the liquidation of the ghetto:  a
German soldier pauses to play classical music on a piano as gunfire blazes
through an apartment building; the windows at night flare with sudden
bursts of lightning coming from inside buildings all over the ghetto:  each
flare represents lives being suddenly and violently snuffed out.  How could
anyone remain unmoved by such vivid, unforgettable recreations of a historical
massacre?  Schindler stunned and haunted me; the images keep returning to my
mind.   Andrew Gordon