Essays

The Survivor: On Magneto, Mutants, and the Holocaust

By posted at 6:00 am on May 23, 2014 13

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1.
The story of every mutant, up to a certain point and with some exceptions, is the same. For the first 12 years or so of his life he identifies as a human being. During his pubescence he manifests powers that make him more interesting than his peers. He can turn his body into iron, control weather patterns, walk through walls, read minds, or fly. He’s still technically a member of the human race. He can still mate with humans and reproduce. Yet he is also something apart, a homo superior. Some mutants can hide their identity. Others — those who develop blue skin or amphibious features, phenotypes that sometimes appear at birth — are not able to pass.

Homo sapiens see in the mutant all that they fear in themselves. Some see in the mutant a possible slave or a creature that must be annihilated. The mutant withstands waves of oppression. One year is more brutal than another. Through it all, he learns to hate himself, then to humble himself before others and sometimes to hurt himself. Some mutants find their way to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, located in Westchester County outside New York, where they learn to respect the culture of the human race, even though it seeks to either destroy or control their very being. They master their powers and transform their bodies into novel instruments.

Other mutants find themselves in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants — later simply known as the Brotherhood – where they adhere to an ideology of mutant separatism. Faced with the threat of homo sapiens supremacy and even outright genocide, they become terrorists, though, as the cliché goes, you could just as easily call them freedom fighters.

Every persecuted minority protects itself with the same litany. They hurt us. They hate us. But we have powers — our own music, religion, humor, language — they can’t take away from us. If we honor our beautiful bodies, the names the majority gives us have no power to kill us. On this score, the mutants in the X-Men and the mutants in the Brotherhood agree.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men in 1963, and during their run the X-Men, like the other heroes in the Marvel Universe, were Mad Men-WASPy. In 1975 Len Wein introduced a new roster that would reflect something closer to the mess of human society. The writer Chris Claremont took over the title and continued the trend throughout his very long run. Colossus, née Piotr Rasputin, is Russian. Storm, née Ororo Munroe, is Kenyan. Rogue, née Anna Marie, is from the South. Wolverine is Canadian. More minorities kept showing up in the X-Men through the years and in the early 1990s Northstar of the Canadian team Alpha Flight came out, in an issue written by Scott Lobdell. But they are all mutants first. The ethnic, social, sexual, gender, political, or religious markers are secondary identities the larger society imposed upon them before they established their mutanthood. There are good reasons for these markers. They signal the sources for the comics’ metaphors and draw distinctions between those who humiliate and those who are humiliated.

For a long time the ethnic background of Magneto, the master of magnetism, the head of the Brotherhood and the X-Men’s arch-nemesis, was unknown. Then in 1981 Claremont invented his backstory. Magneto was a Holocaust survivor. At first, the comics hinted he was a Romani. Some years later, after a bit of narrative wavering, it was established that Magneto was a Jew.

2.
The moral universe of the X-Men was always complicated, but Claremont upset the Manichean balance of the superhero world. The rosters of both the X-Men and the Brotherhood have changed and continue to change dramatically. Members of the X-Men have left to join the Brotherhood. Members of the Brotherhood have left to join the X-Men. Some have left to form their own third or fourth groups. Everyone has a different take on what it means to be a mutant in a non-mutant world. Sometimes they work with the U.S. government and sometimes against it. Sometimes they work in groups indifferent to the functioning of homo sapiens politics. And no one is ever entirely a child of either Martin or Malcolm. When I first got into the X-Men in the 1980s, Magneto had taken off his metal helmet and had joined the X-Men. Within a few years, he had returned to his life as a separatist.

The moral balance always tips in favor of the X-Men, but an intelligent reader never really knows which side he wants to join. The members of the X-Men are better-looking. They live in a dream mansion. They are comrades. Yet there are always problems within their ranks, jealousies, difficult romances. In the movies, Patrick Stewart plays Xavier with a Picard-ian paternalism, but in the comics he’s a strange man — Lee and Kirby looked to Yul Brynner for Xavier’s exoticism — constantly living within his own and others’ heads. His students suspect the telepath of controlling their minds. The good professor demands of them a strict adherence to an ideology only he seems to fully understand and, against all their instincts, he asks them to be what liberal humans want them to be, the mutant equivalents of “respectable Negros.” “Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proven innocent,” Orwell said of Gandhi.

coverMagneto, blue-eyed and silver-haired, is a more charismatic figure, a man who tells you exactly what you want to believe about yourself. “You’re a god among insects,” Ian Mckellen’s Magneto tells a young protégé in X-Men 2. He meets homo sapien supremacy with mutant supremacy. The X-Men have their freaks, the Beast and Nightcrawler, but the Brotherhood is an uglier group, closer to the way the rest of us actually look. Magneto makes deals with supervilllains and he constantly hatches plots of mass murder, but always with one aim in mind, the survival of mutantkind.

Charles Xavier maintains a steady faith in the world into which he is born. In The Uncanny X-Men #141 (January 1981), Xavier sits in a senate hearing alongside his fellow pro-mutant activist Moira MacTaggert as they listen to Senator Kelly debate the possibility of mutant registration. MacTaggert makes the right call. “Registration of mutants today, gas chambers tomorrow.” Xavier answers, “[Kelly is] scared. We must teach him that his fear is unfounded.” Charles Xavier’s optimism is rooted in his powers. He can read the minds of all humans and can see, somewhere beneath the riot of their synapses, something that bends towards decency. He is a mutant Mencius.

Still, one wonders what Xavier hears when he listens to other people’s thoughts. Does he believe Kelly is incapable of creating camps because he is essentially a good man or because, when he senses the senator’s darker thoughts, he can’t believe them and simply ignores them? Magneto serves as Xavier’s counterbalance. Though the comics cast him as something close to but not entirely a supervillain, he’s not always wrong. He is unable to read the thoughts of human beings, but he knows a Nazi when he sees one.

3.
It wasn’t until 2008, in Greg Pak and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s Magneto: Testament, that Marvel fully described Magneto’s childhood. Magneto, née Max Eisenhardt, grew up in 1930s Germany, the son of a Jewish watchmaker. In an attempt to impress a young Romani girl named Magda he enters and wins a javelin competition using his powers over metal against a group of Aryan youth. Tensions rise and the family escapes to Poland. Eventually Max finds himself in Auschwitz, staring across the fence at Magda, who is interned in the Gypsy section of the camp.

The book answers the most pressing question about Magneto’s life: How could a young man with god-like powers over metal not kill every single Nazi in Auschwitz and liberate his fellow inmates? To answer the question, Pak’s story pointed to the machinery of the camp, the divide-and-conquer strategy that the Nazis employed against their inmates. He also points to the fear that any uprising would have led to the deaths of more Jews. Throughout the book, his fellow inmates warn Max that for every Nazi he kills thousands of Jews and Romanis would die in retaliation. The Max Eisenhardt in Pak and Di Giandomenico’s book is a sweet, loving boy, a young romantic. And he maintains a gentility all the way to the end of his tenure as a sonderkommando who shoves old men and young boys together in ovens because they burn more quickly.

That sweet boy dies within a few years after the book’s conclusion and is replaced by a cynical man bent on survival by any means necessary.  His attempts at revenge change from one crisis to the next, but they always lean towards some form of violence. Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men movies depict the extent he’s willing to go to protect his own kind.

coverAt the end of X-Men, Xavier’s team foils Magneto’s plot to transform all the world’s humans into mutants. Magneto’s process is deadly, an unfortunate fact the X-Men know and he doesn’t. If he had succeeded he would have committed, albeit inadvertently, mass murder one thousand times greater than Hitler’s.

At the end of X-Men 2, the X-Men and Magneto foil a plot by a rogue fanatic who attempts to use Cerebro, a machine Xavier and Magneto co-invented, to kill every mutant on earth. Magneto then attempts to use Cerebro to murder, this time with clear intention, every human on the planet. He does not succeed.

4.
The Holocaust victim, in our popular imagination, is a man of goodwill. He is the figure who tells you never to accept bigotry, that life is worth living, that violence is evil and that survival is a blessing. He is Elie Wiesel standing up for the victims of Darfur and the Khmer Rouge and teaching the lessons of his life story to Oprah Winfrey’s audience. He is a Jew laying a stone on Oskar Schindler’s grave in living color. He is Roberto Benigni clown-marching to the gas chambers, comforting his son. She is Anne Frank believing in the essential goodness of humankind even when faced with all evidence to the contrary.

coverThese stories all carry the sheen of political correctness and they all ignore the mess of post-1945 politics. Wiesel may have called for Israel to take in refugees from Darfur, but he’s also one of the more prominent apologists for the Israeli right wing. It’s amazing how many monuments quote Frank without acknowledging her famous line’s horrible irony. The stone-laying scene at the end of Schindler’s List is a happy summation to the world’s greatest tragedy, but on some level — the level at which we are watching actual survivors honor the man responsible for their survival — we can accept it. Benigni’s march, however, is a lie. There were stories of teachers and grandmothers who comforted children marked for death, but Benigni’s martyred clown is incapable of tears. He’s an insult to the many millions who went to the chambers without idiot smiles on their faces.

covercoverThese myths ignore the suicides among survivors, the depressive rage among children of survivors. Far more people read these myths than open The Immortal Bartfuss or Kaddish for a Child Not Born. Our attachment to these myths form the basis of an indictment. No one believes in Auschwitz because no one wants to believe in Auschwitz.

The many storytellers who have handled Magneto have then, in their own way, and through accident and emendation, achieved something remarkable. They have given mainstream popular culture a Holocaust survivor who understands exactly what was murdered in Auschwitz and who refuses to accept any sentimental definitions of survival.

By turning a Jewish Holocaust survivor into a mass murderer, these writers and artists ignore some terrible implications. The myths in Marvel Comics, half-formed and always more outlined than fully examined, lend themselves to an open reading on the part of fans. How do you read Magneto in a world in which the Holocaust is cited by cheap commentators in every human conflict?

You can read Magneto as the fantasy of every post-1945 anti-Semite. He is the Jew who will exert his powers to the absolute degree necessary and then even further, in order to gain his rightful pound of flesh. He is the Jew who screams “Auschwitz” whenever you question the bombings in Lebanon or Gaza, the Jew who will murder and burn his way to safety, ignoring all the children he may incinerate on the way.

You can read Magneto as the nightmare of every post-1945 Jewish humanist. He is the Jew who lost the soulful liberalism of the Yiddishkeit, and who has allowed the Holocaust to turn him into everything he despises. He is the Jew who will bomb Gaza and say, with some credibility, that it is for defense while privately acknowledging a pleasure in revenge. He is the Jew who has allowed the Holocaust to instill in him a debilitating paranoia, an inability to love or trust anyone who is not a Jew, as well as an inability to love or trust most of his fellow Jews.

The two caricatures have a lot in common.

There are other readings as well. Magneto is a wailing child demanding a return of his family and his culture, who now dresses up in metal armor to protect him from the anger of the world as well as his own. He’s a boy who saw God gassed alive and sees no difference anymore between writing “God” and writing “G-d”. He’s also something that none of the writers or artists who have handled him and none of the X-Men readers can know, something only the devil can name.

5.
I’m a fan of the X-Men, but I also believe that superhero comics and superhero movies have no business standing anywhere near the gates of Auschwitz, and the X-Men movies and comics have done nothing to correct this claim. Chris Claremont was and is a miserable writer. His monotonous, somber narration can’t differentiate between Magneto’s experiences during World War II and a fight scrimmage at Xavier’s school. Di Giandomenico’s painterly strokes make his Auschwitz Jews a little too beautiful and his book too easy to look at. Bryan Singer’s depiction of the gates of Auschwitz at the beginning of X-Men is no more menacing than the criminal lairs in The Usual Suspects, a movie he made five years prior. A superhero movie, which treats the threat of apocalypse as an opportunity for adventure, has an unsolvable problem when faced with an actual historical case of mass death. It should avoid this problem.

Still the X-Men movies and comics do something that the more respectable Holocaust movies of mass culture don’t do. At the end of Schindler’s List, the black-and-white of the distant Holocaust past turns to color as the elderly Schindler Jews emerge to plant stones on their savior’s grave. The scene provides closure and catharsis. Spielberg concentrates his camera only on the Jews who live happily forward all the way to the end of the 20th century and buries the Holocaust safely in the past where it can’t hurt anyone after 1945.

Magneto stands as a rebuke to that burial and as a rebuke to everyone who wishes to contain the lessons of the Holocaust, to everyone who has a simple explanation for its occurrence, to everyone who wishes to valorize victimhood, to everyone who believes that survival is an unmitigated blessing. The X-Men movies and the comics tell you things you don’t want to hear, that Hitler won World War II, that the Holocaust never stopped happening, that it continues to happen and that it will keep happening. They tell you these things even if their action narratives, their melodrama, their wit, and their fascination with lithe bodies don’t allow you to feel them. The writers and artists behind the X-Men don’t believe in Auschwitz, not only because they don’t wish to believe in Auschwitz, but also because they can’t believe the very things they are telling themselves.





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13 Responses to “The Survivor: On Magneto, Mutants, and the Holocaust”

  1. Glen Cadigan
    at 8:08 am on May 24, 2014

    There are more factual inaccuracies in one paragraph in this article than most articles possess in their entirety.

    1. To say that “Chris Claremont and later the humane artist John Byrne took over the title in the mid-1970s and changed the roster to reflect something a little bit closer to the mess of human society,” isn’t even close to being accurate. Both Claremont and Byrne inherited the title from Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, who revived it under editorial guidance from Roy Thomas. It was Wein and Cockrum who created the new characters and changed the roster, not Claremont and Byrne.

    2. “Wolverine is French Canadian.”

    Wolverine is not French Canadian. He is not from Quebec, although his first published adventure (in The Incredible Hulk) was set there. Wolverine is from Alberta.

    3. “in the early 1990s Marvel introduced a gay mutant named Northstar to the Canadian team Alpha Flight.”

    Both Northstar and Alpha Flight made their first appearances in 1979. He was revealed to be gay in the early 1990s after years of speculation. Unlike Wolverine, Northstar is French Canadian. Unlike the characters listed in the aforementioned paragraph, Northstar was created by John Byrne.

    4. The inclusion of Rogue in the list of characters gives the false impression that she was also created in the mid-1970s, by Claremont and Byrne, no less. She didn’t appear until years later (1981), in an Avengers Annual, although Claremont was the author. The artist, however, was Michael Golden.

    These aren’t some obscure facts that only a devoted disciple would know; these are facts that fall under the category of common knowledge to someone with a passing familiarity with the topic matter, and therefore should be known by an author that writes an essay on the X-Men.

    So while Mr. Morton is entitled to his own opinions (“Chris Claremont was and is a miserable writer” — an odd thing to say about the man who helmed it for over a decade-and-a-half during which time it was hands-down the industry leader), he is not entitled to his own facts.

    This isn’t a personal attack on him, nor should he take it as such. I include the above points for the same reason that authors’ names are put on spines of books: because proper credit is important. It leads to future work and financial compensation, among other things.

    I do enjoy The Millions’ branching out into covering comic books and graphic novels, but it still has a responsibility to be accurate. I hope that there will be more articles like this one, although I also hope that their facts are checked first.

  2. Paul Morton
    at 12:16 pm on May 24, 2014

    Dear Mr. Cadigan,

    Your corrections are accurate and fair and my mistakes are more attributable to my sloppy prose than my lack of familiarity with the comic. I attempted to streamline a few facts very quickly and I ended up with a bit of a mess. I know full well that Claremont did not inherent writing duties directly from Stan Lee or that Byrne did not directly inherent his artistic duties from Kirby. The same could be said for the unfortunate use of the word “introduce” in the sentence about Northstar, as well as my failure to note Rogue’s first appearance in a non-X-Men comic in the ’80s. My faulty claim that Wolverine was French-Canadian speaks for itself.

    The mistakes add up to a greater overriding inaccuracy that suggests, as you and I know not to be the case, that the X-Men’s move toward diversity was not confined to a single issue. Yes, the X-Men roster changed quite dramatically when Claremont first took over, but it kept changing. One factual error alone would not lead to such a misinterpretation. Four together in a few sentences do. I have rewritten the paragraph in question to correct for these inaccuracies.

    I do stand behind by my minority position on Chris Claremont’s prose. He may very well have been an extremely popular industry leader, but popularity does not equate to greatness.

    Paul Morton

  3. Nico
    at 2:31 pm on May 24, 2014

    Inaccuracies (about things that really don’t bear on the central thrust of the essay) notwithstanding, this is an excellent piece of criticism: sharp, reflective, expansive, humane. The prose is less flashy than John Leonard’s, but the moral authority is much the same. I was moved and impressed.

  4. Trevor Almy
    at 4:24 pm on May 26, 2014

    I enjoyed this article except I did have problems with the following paragraph:

    “I’m a fan of the X-Men, but I also believe that superhero comics and superhero movies have no business standing anywhere near the gates of Auschwitz, and the X-Men movies and comics have done nothing to correct this claim. Chris Claremont was and is a miserable writer. His monotonous, somber narration can’t differentiate between Magneto’s experiences during World War II and a fight scrimmage at Xavier’s school. Di Giandomenico’s painterly strokes make his Auschwitz Jews a little too beautiful and his book too easy to look at. Bryan Singer’s depiction of the gates of Auschwitz at the beginning of X-Men is no more menacing than the criminal lairs in The Usual Suspects, a movie he made five years prior. A superhero movie, which treats the threat of apocalypse as an opportunity for adventure, has an unsolvable problem when faced with an actual historical case of mass death. It should avoid this problem.”

    Why should comics not be allowed to root its narrative in real life tragedies such as the Holocaust?

    Also, the last paragraph, particularly the line that says, “Hitler won World War II” reminds me of the Joker’s line at the end of The Dark Knight where, seemingly defeated, he tells Batman, “You didn’t think I’d risk losing the battle for Gotham’s soul in a fist fight with you? No. You need an ace in the hole. Mine’s Harvey.”

    And then later, after Batman defeats Harvey Dent, Commissioner Gordon says, “The Joker won. All of Harvey’s prosecutions, everything he fought for…undone. Whatever chance you gave us of fixing our city dies with Harvey’s reputation. We bet it all on him. The Joker took the best of us and tore him down. People will lose hope.”

    Good stuff.

  5. Paul Morton
    at 4:47 pm on May 26, 2014

    Trevor,

    That’s a good question, and one that is not only relevant to comics but to all forms of fiction.

    Far better writers have tackled this issue. I would recommend you read Cynthia Ozick’s essay on the subject, “The Rights of History and the Rights of Imagination.” She looks at Sophie’s Choice and The Reader, and asks how clean narrative constructions diminish the most difficult questions about the Shoah.

    Can comics absolutely not talk about the Holocaust? Well MAUS is obviously a great book, and an important one. Joe Sacco has never, to my knowledge, done any comics about the Holocaust, but he has depicted real-world atrocities as a “comics journalist.” I’d urge you to look at his Footnotes in Gaza, Safe Area: Gorazde, or his collection of short pieces Journalism, and see what he does that your average Holocaust-X-Men does not do.

    The issue with superhero comics is that the conventions they trade in can only really handle the experiences of real-world mass death as metaphors. I had no problem in seeing the post-apocalyptic landscape in X-Men: Days of Future Past. It is a work of fiction, and Bryan Singer and his team have a right to create their own scenarios. The problem with the Holocaust is that it is not a fictional scenario. It is a very real enormous thing that no one has any real ability to absorb and our contemporary culture, more often than not, speaks about it a little too casually. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I like superhero comics, but by placing Auschwitz in the middle of a narrative in which we’re also supposed to admire beautiful bodies and enjoy adventure…well I think you can see the issue.

    I should also say that I’m a hypocrite. I think Watchmen is an excellent comic, even though it uses the horrors of the Vietnam War. Maybe Alan Moore’s politics are so close to mine that I can forgive him.

    I tried to look at the issue as well as I could in the 3000 words that I had. Perhaps, a longer essay may be necessary.

  6. Paul Morton
    at 4:59 pm on May 26, 2014

    I’d also like to accentuate one point I made in the last section of the essay. I don’t know whether or not any superhero comic can deal with the experience of an actual mass death. But the evidence before us is what it is. I don’t feel any real rage or sadness at the beginning of the first X-Men movie, and I don’t feel any sickening horror when I read Magneto: Testament. That’s a problem.

  7. Trevor Almy
    at 5:06 pm on May 26, 2014

    Paul,

    Thanks for your thought-provoking response. I thought the essay was excellent. I’ve taken note of Ozick’s essay (I like most of her stuff) and will look into Joe Sacco (never heard of him).

    You raise compelling points, and I certainly think our culture is far too inundated with banality that when it treats somber subjects like the Holocaust in its literature, it runs the risk of sentimentality or flippancy. However, could it not also be that by placing historic cases of genocide in a fictional context, we are giving ourselves the psychological support that we need to look at such atrocities? In other words, maybe as a society we have to look at events like the Holocaust indirectly because it is too horrific to look at directly? Isn’t it better to look at it indirectly than not to look at it at all?

    I don’t know the answers to the questions I am posing. I’m just processing an issue that I have just now started to give serious thought. Have you seen a documentary called Room 237? It is all about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and the various cultural and social substrata that exists in that film, the Holocaust chief among them. In the documentary, a commentator posits at one point that Kubrick always wanted to do a film on the Holocaust but never could bring himself to deal with it directly, given the unfathomable nature of it. Thus, according to this individual, Kubrick chose to deal with it indirectly in the form of The Shining. I thought that to be pretty insightful.

  8. Paul Morton
    at 5:16 pm on May 26, 2014

    Trevor,

    Exactly. Billy Wilder had a hand in one of the first Holocaust documentaries ever made and some auteurist film critics have gone so far as to describe the incessant cynicism in his movies as his own way of dealing with living in the post-Holocaust world. A few years ago, I taught The Third Man to a group of undergraduates and described the movie as a film about the Holocaust before it had a name. (Yes, I knew the Nuremberg trials had occurred before the film’s release, but my students got the point.) Can no work of fiction, superhero comic or otherwise, include the gates of Auschwitz? I think the answer to that is either no or I don’t know. But I think you and I agree that any artist who directly uses such an image has a certain responsibility to make sure the image retains its meaning.

  9. Trevor Almy
    at 5:16 pm on May 26, 2014

    “I’d also like to accentuate one point I made in the last section of the essay. I don’t know whether or not any superhero comic can deal with the experience of an actual mass death. But the evidence before us is what it is. I don’t feel any real rage or sadness at the beginning of the first X-Men movie, and I don’t feel any sickening horror when I read Magneto: Testament. That’s a problem.”

    I see what you are saying. However, in the case of X-Men the movie (I have not read Magneto: Testament so I can not speak intelligently on that matter), the Holocaust element serves mainly as exposition for Magneto’s character. It is a relatively brief portion of the film (five minutes, maybe?). Do all references to historical atrocities, no matter how marginal, have to instill a great degree of remorse and revulsion?

    I’d argue no, since that would mean all works of literature and film that made even a passing reference to tragedies would have to take on the same tone. What about the place of films like Inglorious Basterds, Tarantio’s WW II, alternate history revenge tale? I’m asking, but I don’t know what to do with it myself. I see merit to much of Tarantino’s work, but I also find his cavalier, devil-may-care attitude towards subjects as ghastly as slavery (Django Unchained) and abortion (Kill Bill: Vol. 1) appalling at times.

  10. Trevor Almy
    at 5:19 pm on May 26, 2014

    But yes, I agree with your overall point about how depicting historical atrocities demands a high level of responsibility from the artist.

  11. Saleem
    at 4:05 am on May 27, 2014

    Interesting article – thanks! I wonder if Spielberg’s excellent film Munich captures, among the characters of the eclectic Mossad hit squad, the tensions and unresolved issues to which you refer?

  12. Paul Morton
    at 4:56 am on May 27, 2014

    Saleem,

    I would say yes, quite literally, in that Munich is filled with long on-the-nose conversations on the morality, Jewish and otherwise, of how far one must go in protecting the state. The Holocaust shadows a good part of these conversations. My favorite part of the movie dealt with these questions at a slant. The Eric Bana character meets a disillusioned member of the French resistance who is preparing a large meal for his family. It’s a beautiful, slow naturalist scene. The old man speaks in riddles on the ways good causes come to lose their meaning the more years one spends fighting for them. It’s telling that Spielberg and Tony Kushner grant that voice not to any members of the Mossad nor any Palestinian fighter, but to a European outsider to the Middle East conflict.

    I do think the movie deals with the perils of ideology, yet for all the questions it raises, Spielberg does fall back on sentimentalism. It would have been a very different and more difficult movie if it had centered on the divisions, if any such existed, in the hawkish Daniel Craig character.

  13. Saleem
    at 9:31 am on May 27, 2014

    Paul,

    Thanks for your illuminating reply. I remember both the conversation with Papa and the awful energy of the Daniel Craig character – and I agree that those are the most interesting and nuanced parts of the film. But I fear that Craig’s character was in fact a caricature, no? If he had any tensions then he’d have been the lead. So we got Eric Bana – who was anyway very good.

    Thanks for all the thoughts in your piece and in the comments. I’ve long been interested in similar issues – especially how different people deal with history if it’s their own or if it’s just something out of the classroom – and I’ve found here some good tips to explore.

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