The Portrayal Of Richard Kearney And The Negative Side Of The Holocaust

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The atrocities of the Holocaust, along with the suffering of its victims, are spoken of in literary texts and shown in films. Can the Holocaust actually be represented ethically, in a way that honors the horrific suffering of the victims, and in a real sense, by either of these forms of narrative representations, especially film? Critics argue both sides of this question; some stating that the movie, Schindler’s List, trivializes the Holocaust; whereas, others defend the film. This paper will look at both sides of this argument; the positive side of Richard Kearney and the negative side of Claude Lanzmann. In regards to one positive critique of the film, Schindler’s List, Richard Kearney believes that “fiction can actually serve to bring out a truth that otherwise remains concealed” (Kearney, 2012). This belief came about, during a talk in Montreal, when a woman Holocaust survivor came up to Kearney and said, “You know, I was one of the survivors. I was on Schindler’s list. I was never able to return to the experience, never able to revisit it, never able to talk about it, never able to think about it, remember it, until I saw the film. And when I saw the fictional account played by fictional characters, I was then and only then able to identify with myself as a real victim.” Her words led Kearney to see Schindler’s List as a positive cinematic portrayal of the Holocaust because “it took fiction for her to be able to experience it for the first time” (Kearney, 2012).

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