Holocaust Cinema Complete:
A History and Analysis of 400 Films, with a Teaching Guide
By Rich Brownstein


Blurbs & Forewords

 


Please Note: Since each of these professionals took their time to read and review Holocaust Cinema Complete, their complete text is presented here... and is greatly appreciated.  --Rich Brownstein

Excepts

“The excellence of Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is best found in his sense of self, his sense of community, and his sense of responsibility to history.”

–Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, President of the International March of the Living

Holocaust Cinema Complete is not just comprehensive it’s also wise, thought-provoking, and surprisingly witty, considering its sobering subject.”

–Professor Gil Troy, McGill University

 

“Holocaust Cinema Complete is an asset to every educator and to anyone trying to understand the history of Holocaust films.”

–Ephraim Kaye, Yad Vashem 

“Rich Brownstein’s breezy style makes this well-researched compendium engaging and easy to read.”

–Professor Karen Shawn, Yeshiva University

 

“Rich Brownstein’s achievement in identifying, analyzing, and critiquing the wide-ranging genre will be of immense utility to a variety of readers, whether educators, film critics, historians, or those drawn almost irresistibly to the topic of how to represent the unrepresentable.”

–Professor Froma I. Zeitlin, Princeton University

 

Holocaust Cinema Complete is wonderful and special.  His specific examination of the Anne Frank Diary’s complicated print history, as well as his deep dive into the entire Anne Frank cinema sub-genre since the 1950s is extraordinary.”

–Tom Brink, Anne Frank House

 

“Rich Brownstein’s monumental Holocaust Cinema Complete offers an engaging and comprehensive tribute to the genre, educating the reader with insight and wit, offering much-needed guidance to viewers of all kinds.”

–Professor Michael Polgar, Penn State University

 

Holocaust Cinema Complete is a must-read for anyone interested in critically interacting with representations of the Holocaust, and the cultural ripple-effects that follow from these mediated narratives.”

–Professor Caroline Joan “Kay” S. Picart

 

“Rich Brownstein’s robust and encyclopedic Holocaust Cinema Complete fills this gap in revealing the many facets of this history, from production to reception in Hollywood and beyond.”

–Professor Marat Grinberg, Reed College

 

“Any educator who teaches the Holocaust must have Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete on their bookshelf, hard drive, and eReaders.”

–Professor David A. Frank, University of Oregon

 

“Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete provides a much-needed pedagogical approach to the very best Holocaust films, and as a result will create more informed teachers and students.”

–Professor Holli Levitsky, Loyola Marymount University

“Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is a comprehensive and lively look at how the Holocaust has been portrayed in the movies.”

–Hannah Brown, Jerusalem Post

Full Texts & Titles

The excellence of Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is best found in his sense of self, his sense of community, and his sense of responsibility to history, all of which shine through in this tremendous intellectual achievement.  With precision, facts and passion, he delivers an unfaltering analysis of Holocaust film history, as well as of the film industry in general.  He delivers a meaningful analysis of Hollywood’s truth, its exaggerations, and its distortions, a must for all who crave historical veracity.  And Brownstein’s ability to engage the reader is masterful.  As a bonus, Brownstein introduces his groundbreaking “SOFTA” Holocaust teaching method, a pioneering Holocaust teaching system.  This unique five-step pedagogical roadmap for Holocaust education is a much needed and comprehensive tool for anyone who intends to reach students using film.  Holocaust Cinema Complete is a welcome addition to the library of anyone interested in Holocaust studies or film generally.  Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is unsurpassed.  

Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, President of the International March of the Living, previously served as a George W. Bush Presidential Appointee to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.  She currently is Co-Chair of the Israel Forever Foundation, serves as Trustee of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, and is on the Board of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

Holocaust Cinema Complete by Rich Brownstein is not just comprehensive it's also wise, thought-provoking, and surprisingly witty, considering its sobering subject. Brownstein clearly loves movies. And he clearly loves the Jewish people. The result is far more than a most-useful guide to the best and the worst Holocaust movies; the book is a meaningful look at the trauma of the Holocaust and the opportunities that result from careful, thoughtful, entertainment and education rather than cheap and vulgar attempts to exploit inhuman tragedies.

Gil Troy, Professor, Distinguished Scholar of North American History at McGill University.  Co-Author with Natan Sharansky, Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People.  Author, The Zionist Ideas, Why I Am a Zionist and nine books on American presidential history. 

Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is an asset to every educator and to anyone trying to understand the history of Holocaust films.  His research is extensive and impressive, listing every Holocaust film ever produced worldwide.  His classification of these films into different genres and topics is invaluable.  Teachers are always asking us, “what is the best Holocaust film we can use in our classroom?”  Rich has provided a “guide for the perplexed” and specific answers to this and many other questions with which educators grapple.  I highly recommend this book for any teacher wishing to use a Holocaust film as part of their classroom experience.

Ephraim Kaye, Yad Vashem Director of the Jewish World and International Seminars for Educators at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, from 1994 through 2020.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” is the thought that came to mind as I read Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete.  If you are an educator, you cannot borrow it because you will annotate it, making notes, underlining, and starring passages to which you will want to refer again; you cannot lend it because you will need it for ongoing reference throughout any course on the Holocaust you may teach.  Brownstein’s breezy style makes this well researched compendium engaging and easy to read.  His carefully structured nine chapters are followed by an epilogue discussing current trends in this genre and extensive appendices that list and categorize the films, a bonus for educators, parents, and students and scholars of Holocaust cinema.

Karen Shawn, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Jewish Education and Administration; Founding Editor, PRISM: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators; Azrieli Graduate School of Yeshiva University, New York.

 

The proliferation of films whose subject is the Holocaust, whether in its preliminaries, enactments, or aftermath, whether in Europe or the United States, is a continuing phenomenon, worthy of deeper study.  Rich Brownstein’s achievement in identifying, analyzing, and critiquing the wide-ranging genre will be of immense utility to a variety of readers, whether educators, film critics, historians, or those drawn almost irresistibly to the topic of how to represent the unrepresentable.  In an informed and singular voice, Brownstein’s exhaustive lists, numerous classifications, and cogent discussions, have provided us with an invaluable service and considerable material for further thought.

Froma I. Zeitlin is the Ewing Professor of Greek Language and Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, emeritus, at Princeton University, founder of the Princeton University Judaic Studies Program and served as its director from 1996–2005.

Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is wonderful and special.  His specific examination of the Anne Frank Diary’s complicated print history, as well as his deep dive into the entire Anne Frank cinema sub-genre since the 1950s is extraordinary.  As with all other Holocaust cinema, Brownstein recommends the best Anne Frank films, based equally on both their educational and entertainment value.   His unique and well documented overview of this sub-genre of Holocaust movies is essential for educators and Anne Frank aficionados alike, as well as for film buffs generally.

Tom Brink is the Head of Publications and Presentations at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and is the producer of the Anne Frank Video Diary (2020). 

Rich Brownstein’s monumental Holocaust Cinema Complete offers an engaging and comprehensive tribute to the genre, educating the reader with insight and wit, offering much-needed guidance to viewers of all kinds.  Brownstein has created a cultural compendium that identifies, organizes, and compares a broad array of Holocaust films, guiding readers through the many narratives that constitute the most widely shared form of Holocaust memory.  Unfolding in dialogue with Holocaust studies and other forms of scholarship, this book provides encyclopedic and insightful critical analyses of an expanding genre.

Michael Polgar, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Penn State University, Hazleton Pennsylvania,  Fellow of The Olga Lengyel Institute of Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI).

Rich Brownstein's background in Hollywood, his many years of teaching Holocaust films to international educators and students, and his career contemplating positionality in relation to trauma and violence within the moving image makes his Holocaust Cinema Complete a noteworthy, thought-provoking, and timely contribution to pedagogy and scholarship regarding mediated representations of the Holocaust.  His book is an invaluable resource for Holocaust, Film and History scholars, and other associated fields.  Holocaust Cinema Complete is a must-read for anyone interested in critically interacting with representations of the Holocaust, and the cultural ripple-effects that follow from these mediated narratives.

Caroline Joan “Kay” S. Picart, Ph.D., J.D., editor, The Holocaust Film Sourcebook, Volumes I and II; co-author, Frames of Evil:  The Holocaust as Horror in American Film; Awardee, 2015 Best Essay, Dapim: Studies in the Holocaust International Scholarly Essay Competition.

There’s a long, complicated and fascinating history of representation of the Holocaust on screen which still remains largely unknown to the general viewer.  Rich Brownstein’s robust and encyclopedic Holocaust Cinema Complete  fills this gap in revealing the many facets of this history, from production to reception in Hollywood and beyond.  Students and scholars of the genre will find here a trove of useful details while any cineaste will enjoy Brownstein’s passion for and exhaustive knowledge of this painful, yet deeply important subject.

Marat Grinberg, Associate Professor of Russian and Humanities, Reed College. Author of Aleksandr Askoldov The Commissar and co-editor of Woody on Rye: Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen.

Any educator who teaches the Holocaust must have Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete on their bookshelf, hard drive, and eReaders. Because, as Brownstein rightly observes, Holocaust movies have become the “de-facto Holocaust education for many” it is imperative that Holocaust educators have a command of Holocaust cinema. Brownstein’s book is a gift to those who teach the Holocaust as he provides a careful overview of hundreds of Holocaust films and identifies the 52 best.  Equipped with Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete and a Teaching Guide, the Holocaust educator can develop a sophisticated curriculum and syllabus designed for students of the 21st century.

David A. Frank, Professor of Rhetoric, University of Oregon Coauthor, Frames of Evil: The Holocaust as Horror in American Film.

Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete provides a much-needed pedagogical approach to the very best Holocaust films, and as a result will create more informed teachers and students. The book’s expansiveness will interest all readers who seek to extend their understanding of Holocaust cinema.

Professor Holli Levitsky, Director of Jewish Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Affiliated Professor University of Haifa, Co-Director Jewish American and Holocaust Literature Symposium.

A comprehensive and lively look at how the Holocaust has been portrayed in the movies. Brownstein's opinionated and well-researched book will be of interest to both historians and movie buffs.

Hannah Brown, Movie and Television Critic, Jerusalem Post.

FOREWORDS

 

Walter Reich

Former Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

As the Holocaust recedes in time, fewer and fewer people around the world know much about the Holocaust, and most of us who know something about it only know what we think we know.  And what we think we know is drawn from whatever it is to which we’re exposed.

 

Most of that exposure is to film.  Few of us read history books or the diaries of victims who lived in ghettos or memoirs, and few of us are exposed to Holocaust survivors or watch testimonies of their experiences—documents that actually convey what the Holocaust was.  So it’s films that inform what we think we know.

 

By now many films have been made.  Very few, such as Tim Blake Nelson’s The Grey Zone, have been brutally honest—really, works that stretch the boundaries of the bearable.  Other films, such as Life Is Beautiful, have been, to use the term of one critic of that film, sentimental lies.  Most of us have preferred sentimental lies.  Most of us have sought uplifting, feel-good tales.  And no wonder.  Films are made to be commercial successes, and they fail commercially if they don’t draw crowds.  And crowds don’t watch films that don’t entertain.  To be sure, some will go to films that will at least leave them feeling elevated or morally improved—but not at the price of being immersed too much in the pain of what actually happened.  As a result, what they think they know about the Holocaust is, to one degree or another, usually distorted—indeed, even false.

 

In this extraordinary book, Rich Brownstein, in a way that has never been done before, systematically catalogues and explores the world of Holocaust films, and examines the ways in which they have conveyed the sense of what the Holocaust was.  He does so with intelligence, rigor, incisiveness, decency and honesty—and, surprisingly, with a light touch, unlike many academic treatises on the subject. Anyone who cares about Holocaust memory—a memory that’s vital in a world that’s experiencing resurgent and in many ways annihilationist anti-Semitism—should read this book, consult it, and begin to know what he or she should know.

 

And by the way: Brownstein’s definition of the Holocaust—that it was an event aimed at the elimination of Jews, “an exclusively Jewish catastrophe”—is correct.  He doesn’t broaden his definition in order to be generously, but falsely, inclusive.

 

Read this book.  And learn about the main but often distorted source of what we think we know about the Holocaust.

 

Walter Reich is the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior, and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at The George Washington University, and former Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  He is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

 

 

Tim Blake Nelson

Director/Actor

Whether narrative “Holocaust films” should even exist, let alone constitute a genre, is itself a matter of dispute.  One of the greatest documentarians on the subject of the Shoah, Claude Lanzmann, who made the astonishingly comprehensive and equally impactful work of the same title, would have it that any attempt to depict the atrocities in filmed narrative is itself harmful, simply because with such work inheres the claim that the horrors can be represented artistically at all, thereby trivializing them.  Leaving aside Mr.  Lanzmann’s having arrogated to his chosen category of filmmaking (interview-based documentary) exclusive rights to addressing the subject on film, I’ve always admired the rhetorical simplicity of his argument.  Better, like the Protestants of the great schism who would denounce the depiction of Jesus and God as somehow to corrupt the purity of the divine, to look at the Holocaust as too catastrophically tragic even to try and show, other than with witness interviews and perhaps archival footage.

And yet I look at art at its most impactful as striving to get us closer to truths rather than distancing us from them.  With this in mind, I’ve watched most Holocaust films that have been made, and I endeavored to make one of my own.  In doing the work, however, I always imagined Claude Lanzmann in my ear, demanding that at least if we were going to violate his principles, we do our best to get our depiction right.  Each of us, from the cast, to the designers – and in particular our director of photography Russell Lee Fine, and our production designer Maria Djurkovic – set ourselves to this with a commitment and rigor that never relented, and the result was the film The Grey Zone generously lauded in this book.  Our film has its own issues associated with being an American film.  It’s in English, with characters not speaking in accents, except for the Germans.  I have a recurring dream in which I’m directing the same script with the same crew on the same sets in Hungarian, Polish, Yiddish and German.  But that’s not a film I could have made back then, nor would it have put American audiences in the predicament of seeing themselves on the screen in the impossible predicament faced by the Sonderkommandos.  With all art, and obviously Claude Lanzmann would agree, come compromises.

In this book, Rich Brownstein has done something astonishing.  Clearly, intelligently, sensitively and comprehensively, he has applied a unique insider’s perspective to an unwieldy genre of films all of us at some level wish didn’t exist.  With a scholar’s exhaustive care, and a clear style that’s the opposite of pretentious, he leads us through the history of these movies in a way that’s frank, perspicuously clear, and never precious.  The sheer organizing rigor of it would alone suffice, but he’s also furnished the gift of incisive thought backed up by keen viewing, and a knowledge so comprehensive it almost intimidates.  Perhaps just as importantly, everywhere within you find a stout resistance to theoretical exclusivity.  This is a book for anyone interested in the subject, no matter his or her purpose or training.  It also dares to contextualize and critique, but without ever seeming animated by a personal or political agenda, other than to adhere to Mr.  Brownstein’s own kind of Claude Lanzmann-like admonition: that the filmmakers, no matter the specific narrative and aesthetic terms set by each work, apply a discipline, seriousness of purpose and care that addressing one of the most horrific passages in human history demands.

It’s important finally to remember that so-called “Holocaust films” will always involve failure, because ultimately Mr.  Lanzmann was right: One cannot adequately depict what went on.  Ever.  I’d even go so far as to say we cannot even imagine the reality; that only those there to have experienced it can lay any claim to its real truth.  That, in and of itself, makes Mr.  Brownstein’s book and the films described within something of a paradox.  Because in our ideal world the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened and yet we’re drawn to the movies that depict it, the genre can easily encompass a kind of queer fetishizing of the indescribably horrific.  That said, if movies--the medium that presently most pervades our culture--cannot fathom an avowed attempt to erase an entire people from existence, then what should movies explore?  And so a book such as what follows, hopefully to be appended as other filmmakers apply their efforts to a genre that shouldn’t be but hopefully will never abate, must be approached with respect, profound regret and immense gratitude.

 

Tim Blake Nelson is an actor, with more than 70 feature film credits, including in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012) and Minority Report (2002). He has directed five feature films, including The Grey Zone (2001).  Nelson is a graduate of Brown University, where he was a Classics major as well as Senior Orator for his class of 1986.  He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  Nelson won the Workman/Driskoll award for excellence in Classical Studies.  He graduated from Juilliard in 1990, a member of Group 19.

Michael Berenbaum and Edward Jacobs

American scholars, professor, rabbi, writer, and filmmaker, who specialize in Holocaust studies

Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is as audacious as it is ambitious.  In this work of encyclopedic scope, Brownstein analyzes over 400 Holocaust films and made-for-television movies, identifying the greatness and the flaws, with equal vigor.  With a deep love of filmmaking, Brownstein has  depicted and detailed, evaluated and critiqued contextualized and compared all narrative Holocaust filmmaking since 1945, even those films released within months of the publication of this book.  He has scrutinized each available film, pinpointed their broader implications, and evaluated their value generally, as well as specifically as Holocaust films.  He has also contrasted them with other films of their genre and era.

No stranger to the inner workings of the film industry, Brownstein analyzes these films from the different perspectives of directors, writers and producers.  He also includes insightful analogies and disparities within the corpus of their other works.  His unique classification of Holocaust films into “4+1” logical genres facilitates this deep analysis.  He has the rare ability to consider films as both a filmmaker and a Holocaust educator.

Blessed with a sense of humor and irony, Brownstein’s scholarly material is very readable and entertaining, exploring the landmarks and landmines that have emerged in 75 years of Holocaust filmmaking, finding gems that have been buried in this emotionally challenging film genre.  Films are evaluated contextually, taking into consideration the specific cultural and historic periods of their production.  Almost without the reader sensing it, great swaths of basic Holocaust education are delivered.

Further broadening the  scope of this book, Brownstein not only examines American-produced Holocaust films, but also the 70% of all Holocaust films made in other countries, never allowing an American-centric sentiment to influence the discussion.  For example, he examines the vast contribution to the genre made behind the Iron Curtain, where artistic freedom was limited and the very act of gaining permission to produce a film was often perilous, a place where censors acted as executive editors, thwarting both historical accuracy and creative freedom, forcing creators to adopt cunning modalities and tropes of expression.  These particular films demand greater sensitivity and discernment in interpretive analysis, which Brownstein ably provides.

Brownstein is also willing to express controversial opinions, which he brings with biting humor and a large dollop of chutzpah.  Even when his tastes and standards can be in conflict with prevailing popular opinion – and sometimes even with professional movie critics and distinguished Holocaust scholars – Brownstein consistently defends his sometimes unorthodox positions with facts and class.  We value his opinions and employ them to sharpen our own dissent.  Brownstein is inviting us not to agree, but to learn, to think, and then think again.  Brownstein challenges us, as our best educators are wont to do. 

Although  Brownstein regularly slaughters many sacred cows, his analysis is respectful and balanced.  Even the high-priests of cinema are not immune.  For example, Brownstein’s discussion of Schindler’s List will certainly be an eye-opener for the film’s aficionados and advocates.  Brownstein’s critical examination of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) ratings system, as well as the Production Code which preceded it, is insightful and useful.  Even Elie Wiesel’s attacks against Holocaust Films are thoughtfully addressed and then rebutted.  Brownstein does not back down, and we are edified that he does not.

While the book is not strictly a pedagogical roadmap, Brownstein does devote one chapter to the proper use of Holocaust films in the classroom, as is his specialty as a lecturer for Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem, Israel.  He has done an enormous service to teachers advising them of the best films to be used in educational settings, as well as those less suited to the classroom owing to contextual pitfalls such as the prevalence of violence and nudity, length and other problematic content.  He even apprises the reader of their availability.  For teachers, this authoritative work empowers, enlightens and informs, allowing them to use his accessible analyses to sensibly and sensitively shape their student’s classroom experience.  Parents may similarly gain a greater understanding of the most appropriate films to see with their children, as well as how to frame critically important follow-up discussions.

Brownstein has focused on narrative Holocaust films, as opposed to Holocaust survivor testimonials and Holocaust documentaries.  He makes a substantial and credible case that, in reality, the well-made narrative film brings viewers closest to understanding the events being depicted.  Brownstein emphasizes and substantiates the importance of narrative film in the transmission of Holocaust knowledge to general audiences.  It is not only what is said that has impact, but what is seen.  Exceptional films recreate scenes that take us into the inner chambers of the unique hell of the death camps.  And since narrative films command the majority of the public’s attention and viewership, a critical analysis of this range and scope has long been needed.  ​This is Brownstein’s ambitious and audacious achievement.

 

Michael Berenbaum, Los Angeles, California, is an American scholar, professor, rabbi, writer, and filmmaker, who specializes in the study of the Holocaust.  He served as Deputy Director of the President's Commission on the Holocaust (1979–1980), Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) (1988–1993), and Director of the USHMM's Holocaust Research Institute (1993–1997).  Berenbaum is currently the Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, California.  Berenbaum co-produced One Survivor Remembers (1995), winner of an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and the Cable Ace Award.  Among his many other film credits,  Berenbaum was executive producer of Swimming in Auschwitz (2007) and was a consultant for Defiance (2008) and Uprising (TV 2001).  Berenbaum is the author and editor of eighteen books, including After Tragedy and Triumph, a study of the state of American Jewry in the early 1990s, as well as The World Must Know, Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp.  Berenbaum is the Executive Editor of the New Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed., that includes 22 volumes, six million words, and 25,000 individual contributions to Jewish knowledge, published in December 2006, which won the Dartmouth Medal of the American Library Association for the outstanding reference work of 2006.

Edward Jacobs, Efrat, Israel, is Principal and co-founder of Berenbaum Jacobs Associates, the whose portfolio includes designing the Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum, the Cincinnati Holocaust And Humanity Center, and Holocaust Memorial Museum Of Macedonia.

 

David Zucker

Director/Producer/Writer

Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is a startling triumph!  If that sounds like I’ve gone overboard, how about: Rich Brownstein’s Holocaust Cinema Complete is an enjoyable Holocaust and film book from beginning to end.

First, the book’s hybrid writing approach – blended academic and commercial prose – is highly readable and equally entertaining, which was great for me, since generally, my lips move as I read.  The book is also impeccably organized, framing 75 years of filmmaking with remarkable clarity.  In fact, it was understandable, even to me.  And finally, unlike me, the book is humble, never betraying the solemn historical topic, while, at the same time, never making assumptions regarding readers’ knowledge of the Holocaust or of film. 

Brownstein also refuses to rubber stamp sacred cows of cinema, including Oscar winners Schindler's List (1993), Life Is Beautiful (1997) and Jojo Rabbit (2019), two of which I  genuinely loved.  Sometimes with only a few words and other times in complete chapters, Brownstein deconstructs countless film icons – filmmakers and their films – not for sport, but in search of truth.  Conversely, with a passion evocative of the late Roger Ebert (who, by the way, loved Airplane! the Naked Guns, and even Top Secret!) Brownstein discusses countless worthy films that have either been ignored, unappreciated or forgotten.

Yet, perhaps Mr. Brownstein’s greatest accomplishment is his underlying principle: by watching Holocaust films, the public longs to make sense of the incomprehensible.  Here, we’re not being sent back to textbooks, testimonies or documentaries.  Instead, he seems to understand inherently that, for better or worse, we have chosen cinema as our Holocaust source material.  We have chosen an artform that is inherently derivative of reality and that tells an imperfect story.  And because we prefer cinema, Brownstein fashions the tools we need to find deeper meaning in narrative Holocaust film.  This was my great surprise and joy.  And I'm left longing for a sequel to this work, perhaps a Spoof Cinema Complete — but one can only dream.

 

David Zucker is an American film director, producer, and screenwriter.  Associated mostly with parody comedies, Zucker is recognized as the director and writer of the critically successful 1980 film Airplane! as well as being the creator of The Naked Gun franchise and the director of Ruthless People (1986).

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Lori Banov Kaufmann

"Important contribution to Jewish scholarship"

October 27, 2021

This book is not only a comprehensive review of all Holocaust films but also a valuable teaching tool. Brownstein, a noted film scholar, shines a light on this controversial genre. He analyzes the films from many angles, including the people behind the films, the films' historical accuracy and their role in public discourse. Even though the book is a serious scholarly work, it's an engaging, gripping read. Highly recommended!

Ron
"Cover to Cover Excellence"
November 5, 2021
I bought Holocaust Cinema Complete just as a reference book about the hundreds of Holocaust films and television movies that have been made since 1945. But I was so pleasantly surprised to find that only a third of the impressive book is an encyclopedic listing of films, with the rest being a history of the subject and recommendations of the 50 best films, with reviews and supporting information. The collection of essays is equally courageous and thoughtful, taking on such icons as Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel and Roman Polanski. Cover-to-cover, this book is so witty and entertaining that I ordered three, just to give as gifts. Highly recommended!!