CSU Holocaust Awareness Week: Movies

On Tuesday, February 21st, CSU had their second Holocaust Awareness event.  Students screened, The Pianist, a movie about a pianist and his fight for survival during the Holocaust.  

In a previous post, it was explained that post-Holocaust literature plays an important part in documenting what many people went through. Storytelling was their way of being able to share their experiences through the Holocaust and their survival.  

Movies, while sometimes not very accurate, also play an important part in describing what happened for many people during the Holocaust.  Movies like The Pianist, Life Is Beautiful, Schindler’s List, and many more, document the hard times people faced, through both fiction and non-fiction.

For example, both The Pianist and Schindler’s List were both based on true stories.  They highlighted the unbelievable lives of Władysław Szpilman and Oscar Schindler, two people who were in different positions during the Holocaust. Władysław Szpilman was a Polish-Jewish pianist who went through great depths in order to survive. Oscar Schindler was a German business man who saved the lives of over a thousand Jews. Both men became well known for their stories.  The two movies were originally books that were adapted into movies. These movies present images of pain and suffering that many went through during such difficult times.  

Life Is Beautiful is an Italian Holocaust movie about a Jewish father and son.  In order to survive, the father, played by Roberto Benigni, tells his son that going to concentration camps and interacting with Nazis is actually a game with a prize in the end.  Benigni tells his son that there are rules that he has to follow and if he doesn’t follow them, they get sent home and won’t be able to get the prize. Little does the boy know, if he doesn’t follow the “rules of the game” he actually would be killed by a Nazi. Although fictional, this film still tells a story of survival. People did everything they could in order not to die, even if it meant telling their children that this was all a game and everyone was having fun.
These movies, and others, share important messages, whether based on true stories or completely made up stories. They tell the stories of many people who were not able to tell their own stories, and those who survived that are unable to share their stories because they bring too much pain.  The Diary of Anne Frank is meant to show people the story of someone who faced all of these horrors and was unable to share their story herself.  These movies put images to the words that many people have read in books, poems, and other forms of literature.  It puts a picture in their head of how tragic the Holocaust was if they were lucky enough to not experience it.  If we can see how horrible everything was, we can know that we never want to see those images off of the silver screen.