Yesterday morning an absolutely blistering piece by Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler, appeared on Slate that ripped into Stephen Daldry‘s The Reader. He called it “the Worst Holocaust Film Ever Made” and which implored Academy members not to vote it Best Picture. “Somebody has to say [it’s the worst],” Rosenbaum writes. “I haven’t seen others do so in print. And if I’m not the perfect person to do so, I do have some expertise.”
“Somebody has to say [it’s the worst ever made]. I haven’t seen others do so in print. And if I’m not the perfect person to do so, I do have some expertise,” he writes.
“And so I will: This is a film whose essential metaphorical thrust is to exculpate Nazi-era Germans from knowing complicity in the Final Solution. The fact that it was recently nominated for a best picture Oscar offers stunning proof that Hollywood seems to believe that if it’s a ‘Holocaust film,” it must be worthy of approbation, end of story. And so a film that asks us to empathize with an unrepentant mass murderer and intimates that ‘ordinary Germans’ were ignorant of the extermination until after the war, now stands a good chance of getting a golden statuette.
“And so the film never really questions the presumption that nobody could know and thus register moral witness against mass murder while it was going on. Who could have imagined it? That’s the metaphoric thrust of the Kate Winslet character’s ‘illiteracy’: She’s a stand-in for the German people and their supposed inability to ‘read’ the signs that mass murder was being done in their name, by their fellow citizens. To which one can only say: What a crock!”
Note: Apologies for the disappearance of this and other stories earlier today.