Holocaust Cinema Complete

To commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, this week's review provides an extensive, educational guide to Holocaust films

Holocaust Cinema Complete: A History and Analysis of 400 Films, with a Teaching Guide

Brownstein, Rich. McFarland, 2021
488p bibl index, 9781476684161 $49.95, 9781476641928

Holocaust Cinema Complete: A History and Analysis of 400 Films, with a Teaching Guide book cover. Black background with hands holding the Star of David.

More than a reference book, Brownstein’s tome is a work of Holocaust film criticism and a guide for educators teaching the Holocaust through film. Brownstein (International School of Holocaust Studies, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel), an international expert concerning the history and use of Holocaust films, defines the Holocaust as the sum total of all anti-Jewish actions carried out by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. He organizes Holocaust films into a “4+1 genre system” to distinguish films that adhere to his definition, covering “Victims,” “Survivors,” “Righteous Gentiles,” “Perpetrators,” and “Tangential” characters, such as Sophie’s Choice (1982), which is about the suffering of a non-Jew during the Holocaust. Recognizing that most people increasingly glean information about the Holocaust from films, Brownstein is critical of so-called Holocaust films that lack authenticity. His list of the greatest Holocaust films does not include Schindler’s List (1993), most films about Anne Frank, or television series such as War and Remembrance and QB VII. A section titled “The 52 Best Holocaust Films” singles out The Grey Zone (2001) as the most authentic and best of the Holocaust genre but also, surprisingly, includes Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009). This book is an invaluable source on Holocaust films and deserves a wide readership.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.
J. Fischel, emeritus, Millersville University
Subject: Reference – Humanities
Choice Issue: Dec 2022

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