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Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (2004)

The history of Hollywood's handling of the Nazis and its later depiction of the Holocaust they perpetrated.

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Cast

Credited cast:
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Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Norma Barzman ...
Herself
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(archive footage)
Michael Berenbaum ...
Himself
Robert Berger ...
Himself
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(archive footage)
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Himself (voice) (archive footage)
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(archive footage)
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(archive footage)
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(archive footage)
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Himself
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(archive footage)
Dan Curtis ...
Himself
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(archive footage)
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Storyline

Of recent historical events, few events have been so searing, and thus so difficult to depict faithfully both in nature and scope in film, than the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis. This film tells the story of Hollywood's approach to the subject, starting with its initial pre-war reluctance to alienate the lucrative German market. With World War II, and the discovery of the Nazi horrors, we follow Hollywood's reaction over the decades to the atrocity. Challenged with a tragedy that beggared the imagination of artists and audiences, Hollywood grew from trying to keep it in the abstract to striving to depict it head-on in ways that would be both truthful and respectful with the proper humanity. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

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Release Date:

25 December 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fantastikos martyras: To Hollywood kai to Olokaftoma  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,880 (USA) (28 December 2007)

Gross:

$21,507 (USA) (25 April 2008)
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1.85 : 1
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[first lines]
Narrator: For over a half a century Hollywood films have dealt with Nazism and the Holocaust in complex and often contradictory ways. Marked by outrage and indifference, compassion and ignorance, the need to understand and the desire to forget. And yet while this most horrific chapter in modern world history happened far from America's shores, it has been American movies, perhaps more than any other medium, that have shaped how we understand and remember these events.
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Features Cabaret (1972) See more »

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An Interesting Overview of Film History
13 March 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This documentary goes over the history of the Holocaust on film from 1940 up through today (2004). What I found most interesting is how they actually started with the presentation of Nazis on film, and not the Holocaust in particular. The point being that aside from "Great Dictator" and "Mortal Storm", many films of the war era were not at all critical of the Nazi regime... in fact, they were almost pleasant.

What I next found interesting was the reluctance to use he word "Jew" in a movie. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who died in the Holocaust. Yet, apparently, the first film version of Frank's story goes out of the way not to mention why her family is being persecuted because they felt that non-Jews would not be able to identify with the events.

Interestingly, Steven Spielberg says that not many films have been made about the Holocaust. I would say that all depends on how you define "not many". There have been hundreds, starting with a slow trickle (5) in the 1940s and up to dozens a year since the 1970s...


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