Claude Lanzmann's famous proscription against ever tackling the Holocaust in a purely representational way – because how can one honestly, decently recreate the almost unimaginable without cheapening or faking it? – still casts a shadow over the whole genre three decades after the release of his documentary Shoah. I wish more people would listen to him. His polar opposite is Steven Spielberg, and Schindler's List neatly embodies all Lanzmann's doubts. The documentary favours long takes, no heroes, and no war-crime footage whatsoever. The feature shows it all: random executions, gas chambers, the anguish of the doomed, but undercuts it all with a Spielbergian hunger for uplift and good guys.
The Holocaust movie has taken some odd turns in the years since Shoah and Schindler established these parameters. We were favoured with those "Have Yourself a