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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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Norma Barzman ...
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(archive footage)
Michael Berenbaum ...
Robert Berger ...
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(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)
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(archive footage)
Dan Curtis ...
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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  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,880, 30 December 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$21,507, 27 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 Underground (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An ineffable experience only understood by those that survived the camps.
6 February 2009 | by See all my reviews

An outstanding account of the atrocities that happened in Germany, and Hollywood's dealing with in in light of the makeup of Hollywood, the acceptable mores of the times, the House Un-American witch hunt, and other factors.

It was interesting that television led the way in presenting the Holocaust with a guest on "This is Your Life" being the first instance. After a weak Anne Frank movie, TV returns with Judgement at Nuremberg on "Playhouse 90" in 1959. The fact that one of the sponsors was The American Gas Company muted the effort.

But, Hollywood soon began to get it right. It was after The Holocaust, an 8 hour miniseries was aired and survivors began telling their stories.

How Hollywood handled this tragic part of history is an interesting story and part of a body of knowledge that will help in viewing these films.


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