Friday, January 2, 2009

The Hitler Channel

The Boy in Striped Pijamas (2008)

(...) Loss of urgency, loss of documentary conviction, and loss of recognition, offset by a net gain in jokes about the Hitler Channel: these are the outcomes we may expect as the pace of Holocaust film production continues. These will be the consequences of an end-of-the-year schedule that brings Defiance, Valkyrie, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Reader, Adam Resurrected, and Good—because only the most determined optimist would expect all these movies to aspire to the condition of Yad Vashem.
Nextbook: Lest We Remember , by Stuart Klawans

Reading the article above, I couldn't help but wish someone in Spain wrote something about our very own Franco channel. It seems to me that all nations have their own traumas/phobias, and if the American one is the Holocaust/Hitler, the Spanish one is the Civil War/Franco. As the author goes about a moratory on Holocaust pictures, I also wish there was a moratory in Spain about the historical period of 1936-1975. Of course that would do away with half of my country's filmography. IMDB lists 119 titles, and even though some of them are not Spanish, and even though a few Spanish films have not been listed, it gives you an idea of how exasperatingly exhausting the whole thing is.

Los Girasoles Ciegos (2008)

It has nothing to do with serious historical documentation and research (I have absolutely nothing again our Law of Historical Memory,explained here), not even with doing serious documentaries (although there isn't exactly a lack of those, either). I'm not even saying that all these movies aren't worth watching. Some of them are even good. But as Richard Corliss argues in Defiance: Beyond Holo-kitsch (through which I got the link to Lest We Remember), very often these movies don't make us remember these events and think about the consequences of the Holocaust/Spanish Civil War [/insert historical trauma here], but they merely become a suitable background to guilt-trip the audience and the critics, thus distracting them from how much some of these actually suck. And I quote(because I love sounding academic)

It has become not just a topic but a genre, one that, at its most reductive, exploits the awful melodrama of that chapter in history to badger viewers, intimidate critics, elicit easy tears, and serve as a back-patting machine for serioso directors.

Defiance: Beyond Holo-kitsch,by Richard Corliss

Defiance (2009)

Ok, so maybe not all these films are even bad, and probably not every director means all this harm consciously, but it sems that that overflow of Holocaust and Spanish Civil War films makes us miss the forest for the trees. They become the artistic equivalent of Godwin's Law, i.e.:

Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states:

"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Godwin's Law,by the Almighty Wikipedia.

Similarly, we can probably calculate artistic stagnation by merely looking at how many Trauma movies are opening this weekend. Tragedy should not be yawn-not-another-one-please. Maybe we could restrict ourselves as audiences (we've got the power!) to one Holocaust and one Civil War movie a year?

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