The Comic Mode in Life is Beautiful

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2. Discuss the advantages and limits of the comic mode in addressing the Holocaust. Analyze specific film a scene from Life is Beautiful in depth to advance your arguments. Refer to:

The comic style is used to address the Holocaust in different movies. Humor is a way of dealing with the trauma of the Holocaust. Holocaust is known as the Shoah which was a massive killing of a large group of people, particularly people from a specific ethnic group during World War II. Nazi Germany was aided with their associates and killed around six million Jews in Europe. The population killed was about two-thirds of the Jews between 19-41 and 1945. They used both genocide and ethnic cleansing which are a mass killing of members from a particular ethnic group in a specific area. The Jewish are known to make fun of their nature and their experiences. The comic mode is used to address the responsibilities, trauma, language, and testimony of post-war world. Life is beautiful is a funny drama film which addresses the Holocaust in different forms[1].

Life is beautiful film consist of many comedic elements and humorous interactions. It is an Italian drama film which is directed by Roberto Benigni. The film is limited from comic being an Italian film, and they cannot make too much fun of the Jews. The film was inspired by the life of Benigni father who spent two years during the World War II camping in Germany and In the End, a book written by Rubino Romeo Salmoni[2]. The film used criticism for comic purposes. Guido is a Jewish man who operates in his uncle's restaurant. He happens to fall in love with Dora who is a teacher in the city and ready to get married to an arrogant government official who is rich. However, Guido creates coincidental incidents to reveal his interest in Dora who later sees the promise and affection and gives in. Guido steals Dola from her engagement party making the fiancé and his mother to get humiliated. Guido and Dora later marries and gets a son, Giosuè; they also run a bookstore.

World War II breaks, and Dora’s husband, brother, and son are taken during the birthday of Giosuè. Together with many Jews, Dora’s husband, brother, and son are pushed to a train and taken to a concentration camp. Dora confronts the guard about the son and husband, and she volunteers to be in the train so that she can be close to the family. In the camp, men are separated from the women so that they may not see each other. However, it is comic how Guido communicates to Dora by the use of camps loudspeaker to tell her that their child as well. Their son, Giosuè do not follow the other children when ordered to stay in their gas chambers. It is not comic how people were getting executed in the gas chambers. Eliseo, Giosuè’s uncle, was killed in the gas chamber after they arrived in the camp.

The comic mode has advantages in addressing the Holocaust. In the camp, Guido did not tell his son the actual situation concerning the field. Instead, he said to him that it is a complicated game in which he must take part whereby he will gain points for each accomplished task. He told his son that the first to earn 1000 points would win a tank. He was warned that crying, wanting the mother and saying he is hungry will make him lose points. Guido advised him that hiding from the camp guards helped him earn extra points. Guido takes advantage of the situations such as the visiting officers and their families and the nanny to serve the officers and feed Giosuè. They are almost caught that they are prisoners but escapes when Guido is found teaching the German children.

The comic mode is used to handle the bitter situations during the Holocaust. At the end of the story, Guido tells his son to hide in the box as his last task before he wins the tank. He then left to search for Dora, his wife whereby he is caught by a German soldier and shot dead. The son gets out the box in the next morning to find the United States Army who liberated the camp. Giosue is excited by the allowance to ride the Sherman tank by the American soldier. He is overjoyed not knowing that his father is dead. When living the camp, he spots his mother and reunites telling her excitedly on how he had worn the promise that his father had given him, to win a large tank. When Giosue is an adult, he gets into a monologue of the sacrifices his father has made for him. Guido is a comic person who used comic to handle the situations in the camp by ensuring that their child was feed. He made him hid from the soldiers so as not to be executed and finding ways of surviving in the field such as communicating and sending messages to Dora by the use of camp loudspeakers to assure her that their son as well.

6. How does Tarantino’s film, Inglourious Basterds, address the preoccupation of filmmakers with the subject matter of the Holocaust? Consider the meta-cinematic elements and analyze how the film manipulates its audience to root for, and then potentially critique, the fiery conclusion. A book edited by Robert Dassanovsky on this topic is on reserve at TFDL

Tarantino’s film, Inglourious Basterds, address the preoccupation of filmmakers with the subject matter of the Holocaust. It is the first year that the Germans are settling in France, and a Jewish officer assembles the Jewish soldiers to take revenge against the Nazi’s by even taking their scalps. The film involves the Jewish men in the forces and a theater owner who seeks to revenge on how the Nazi executed her family[3]. It is a film of war written in 2009 and contains two parts. The plot is to assassinate the leadership of Germans, and Laurent and the other team lead one plan is led by Jewish soldiers. The title of the film was an inspiration from an Italian director. The plot starts with Ss Colonel Hans Landa in 1941 talks with a farmer asking for the Jewish family. The Germans promised to leave his family alone, but after saying they are under the floor, the SS soldiers are commanded to shoot through to the floorboard killing his family except for Shoshanna who was able to escape because she was young. The shooting of this Jewish family by the Germans reveals the holocaust that involved the massive killing of the Jews in Europe.

Three years after the incidence, Lieutenant Ald Raine recruited the Jewish American soldiers into the army for the first time. The soldiers spread fear to the German soldiers by killing them. It is as a result of the memory they had during the Holocaust that made them kill the Germans to revenge the deaths of the Jews who were murdered by the Germans during World War II. Only one soldier remained during the attacks. Raine used a knife to carve the Nazi swastika on his forehead to always show that he served during the German era, a way of recalling the holocaust. Shosanna operates a cinema in Paris where he meets Fredrick a snipers in German who killed around two hundred and fifty soldiers in one battle. Fredrick being a star in a cinema makes Shosanna convince Joseph to hold the film at her cinema. Marcel is Shosanna’s projectionist and lover whereby they plot to put fire on the cinema during the movie to kill all the Nazi leaders. The step to destroy the Nazi leaders is a way of revenging the death of her family members who were killed by the Jews[4]. The basterds finds out of the plot the woman at the cinema has and decides to destroy Hitler at the event. Both parties need to revenge. The vengeance is brought about by the memories which happened during World War II.

The film uses different meta-cinematic elements, and these are a form making whereby the audience is warned that they are watching a fiction movie. The elements involve discussing the making of the film with the characters and showing the facilities and equipment’s to get used in the film. The film, Inglourious Basterds in 2009 gave an idea of what is in the film before it releases. Quentin Tarantino announced that the film to be released was based on a group of Jewish American soldiers who were to revenge against the Nazi. Metacinema of the film helped to create a fantasy world to the Jews who were victims of enacting revenge on the violence in Europe Jewish population. World War II and the Holocaust happened simultaneously, they are separate events but not a single historical event. The film did a good way of showing the difference which focused on Shosanna and Basterds. The story is composed of the Jewish revenge which makes the Nazi victims feel to attack, but it is different from the Holocaust.

8. In the documentary Landscapes of Memory, Ruth Klüger talks about her Auschwitz survival, her university career, and her family life. Her sons are interviewed as well, and Klüger’s younger son Dan is shown visiting his mother in Vienna, together with his wife and children. Discuss the concept of postmemory as explained by Marianne Hirsch (see readings provided on D2L), and analyze the film by using her findings. How is postmemory as an effect of remembering the Shoah within the second generation of survivor’s families made visible in Renata Schmidtkunz’ documentary? Which filmic features are used to highlight the psychological and emotional challenges?

Marianne Hirsch explains Post-memory as the act of inheriting personal, cultural, and collective trauma. The trauma is a result of the experiences they recall, images, stories, and the behaviors whereby they grew up. The skills are passed to the individuals, and it ends up affecting them genuinely thus becoming their own. They constitute their memory. The post memory is not recalling the past, but it represents imagination whereby the affected individual invests, projects, and creates creativity concerning a particular activity. The holocaust memories are inherited whereby the narratives gave at early childhood concerning the massive killing. Holocaust is an event that happened in the past, but it continues to haunt the individuals to the present. Marianne Hirsch is a professor in English and comparative literature. She was born in Romania during the Second World War, and at teenage, she migrated to the United States. She explains the concept of post-memory in her books, for example, The Generation of post-memory and Ghosts of Home[5].

Marianne Hirsch introduced the term post memory which has been cited in many books and articles. She first used the term to refer to the children of the Jews who survived the massive killing in Europe. The parents who were Holocaust survivors passed their bitter past to their children who created imaginations on how the events occurred. The post memory meaning was expanded to refer to how the later generations bear the trauma other people experience using images, behaviors, and stories. The distance witnesses take a collective, personal and collective injury of the people who witness the massive killing of the individuals during World War II. The acquired knowledge of history inform of post-memory has been used by the second generation to raise questions concerning the Shoah and to create sense with a living connection.

Post-memory is an effect of remembering Shoah within the second generation of survivor’s families made visible in Renata Schmidtkunz’ documentary. Renata Schmidtkunz’ documentary has a film by the name, landscapes of memory which analyses the life of Ruth Kluger. The author addresses a girl who recalled the events of the Holocaust, and the impact of post-memory has a lasting experience. It is not easy to erase the memory of the person for them to forget the bitter past and continue with the present. Ruth Kluger is a scholar from Vienna, and she tries to deal with the Holocaust issues by visiting some places. She revisits the four places, namely; Israel, Gottingen, California, and Vienna. She shares her thoughts about her childhood in anti-Jewish Vienna, the life she had in the United States, mothering her two American sons and commemoration culture[6].

The survivors of the families remember the events that took place during the Shoah. Shoah refers to the Holocaust which was a massive killing of a large group of people, particularly people from a specific ethnic group during World War II. Nazi Germany was aided with their associates and killed around six million Jews in Europe. The individuals affected are seen to visit various places that the massacre took place for commemoration. Ruth Kluger is seen to visit different places in the film to visit different sites. Ruth’s son is seen to visit his mother in Vienna accompanied by his wife and children. The post memory causes both personal and cultural trauma to the affected persons. In the documentary, the parents who survived the tragedy are seen to narrate the story about the proceedings and the events that occurred during the Holocaust. The children of the survivors use the stories, images, and the knowledge they are given concerning the Holocaust to create pictures in their mind resulting in posting a memory. The post memory experiences tend to haunt the individuals and traumatize them. The book is a story on how the life of a child was affected by the Shoah.

Different film features are used to highlight the psychological and emotional challenges in the documentary. The author uses the narrative feature to describe Ruth’s life in prison during her childhood. She explains how the Nazi boys sang in jail on how the Jewish blood was spurting from their knives which emotional Kluger is a Jewish. The Jewish children are denied to swim, ride, watch cinema, and skate affecting them psychologically. Resistance occurs in 1940 when Kluger breaks the laws so that she can watch Snow White. A Nazi girl who is 19 years of age threatens to denounce her. Later in the book, her father disappears in the Holocaust which affects Kluger’s emotions. She sees her father raising his hat to the neighbors, and she later imagines him being killed by the men she greeted. She cries for the loss of her father and the people who killed her fellow Jews. The relationship between the daughter and father weighs heavily. Kluger experiences challenges not only with the Nazi people but also her tribe. During the Passover, she is the youngest child and feels to ask the questions at the table, but she has not learned that the girls do not participate. According to their culture, the voice of a woman is forbidden in the synagogue[7].

Bibliography

Taylor, Simon, and Tom Stammers. Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Macat Library, 2017.

Bondanella, Peter. "Monica DiFiori April 20, 2015 Italian Cinema Professor Lucarelli Italy’s Great Tragicomic Films."(2015).

Kraus, Joe. "Who Gets to Shoot Hitler? Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and the Directorial Contest Over the Gaze of the Victor and the Victim."Quarterly Review of Film and Video 33, no. 5 (2016): 437-455.

Jenkins, Gary. "Whose revenge is it anyway? Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, intertextuality, and America's War on Terror."Holocaust Studies 21, no. 4 (2015): 236-249.

Prager, Brad. "The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust by Marianne Hirsch."Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 33, no. 3 (2015): 149-151.

Lenz, Claudia, Irene Levin, and Marie Louise Seeberg. "Introduction: The Holocaust as Active Memory."Keilbach, Judith. "After the Fact: The Holocaust in Twenty-First Century Documentary Film by Brad Prager."Monatshefte109, no. 2 (2017): 345-348. In The Holocaust as Active Memory, pp. 13-26. Routledge, 2016.

[1] Taylor, Simon, and Tom Stammers. Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Macat Library, 2017.

[2] Bondanella, Peter. "Monica DiFiori April 20, 2015 Italian Cinema Professor Lucarelli Italy’s Great Tragicomic Films."(2015).

[3] Kraus, Joe. "Who Gets to Shoot Hitler? Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and the Directorial Contest Over the Gaze of the Victor and the Victim."Quarterly Review of Film and Video 33, no. 5 (2016): 437-455.

[4] Jenkins, Gary. "Whose revenge is it anyway? Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, intertextuality, and America's War on Terror."Holocaust Studies 21, no. 4 (2015): 236-249.

[5] Prager, Brad. "The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust by Marianne Hirsch."Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 33, no. 3 (2015): 149-151.

[6] Lenz, Claudia, Irene Levin, and Marie Louise Seeberg. "Introduction: The Holocaust as Active Memory."Keilbach, Judith. "After the Fact: The Holocaust in Twenty-First Century Documentary

[7] Film by Brad Prager."Monatshefte109, no. 2 (2017): 345-348. In The Holocaust as Active Memory, pp. 13-26. Routledge, 2016.

November 24, 2023
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