Late meetings

I’ve just watched The Reader. This film, made in 2008, is about the life of a female guard at a satellite camp of Auschwitz after the war. And it is by far the best film I’ve seen in 15 years. Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes play the main roles.
The story is a core part of German history after WW2 where the State, the west German state that is, after Nuremberg allowed the second to n-th rank a pass from prosecution. In the early years, the ten years to 1955, this made a great deal of sense since had the people involved with the camps, all of them, been removed then the State simply couldn’t operate.
However, after 55 things became fraught. Old comrades associations began springing up and a certain forgetfulness, one that was whole manufactured, began to coalesce about the official histories, surreptitiously. The West German state simply couldn’t have this solidify so soon after the Powers handed over control to Germans. It began writing a series of laws which criminalized the ODESSA and many other far more benign organs and clubs populated by ex-military people.  And started a systematic rank by rank prosecution and jailing of those involved with War Crimes. Not just those around the Holocaust, but all War Crimes.
This film is brilliant. It takes a general story of a woman guard who was peripheral, but none the less a part of the system of Auschwitz. She survived the aftermath of the war intact and helped a boy who became ill on her tram. It is here the story begins. They have an affair during a Summer and following an encounter in the bed she leaves. The boy next encounters her some years later in a courtroom. Where he is a student auditing the proceedings along with his small class and the tutor. Where she is amongst six accused.
I will leave it there for to continue would be a spoiler if you haven’t seen it.

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6 Responses to Late meetings

  1. sage says:

    It sounds interesting… Thanks for the recommendation.

    • V.H says:

      It is very interesting. The story and direction made Kate Winslet into a darn good little actress. Anyone who sees this will never again make the prime association of her and bad CGI on the bow of Titanic.
      What it has done is unique in my experience. It has gone some way to explain the ordinariness of those involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is unbelievably powerful for those of us with a good knowledge of the mechanisms of the Nazi State. Here is Wiki’s entry

  2. Kelly says:

    It’s not one I’m familiar with. I’ll have my husband add it to the Netflix queue.

    The most recent we’ve watched is “42”, the story of Jackie Robinson. I enjoyed it, though I’ve since read about several inaccuracies portrayed in the movie.

    • V.H says:

      No I’d not heard of it either but Winslet got the Oscar for best actress for her portrait of Hanna Schmitz. But it’s a most unprepossessing title. Nor does it give any hint at all about the subject matter. In fact thinking about it. It’s a wonder the distributors lit it out with such a totally bland tag.
      I think it will reward a viewing.

  3. Kimberly says:

    I remember when it came out a few years ago, it was on my list to see. But it came and went, and I never made it to the theater. I believe it’s in my Netflix queue, but I watch so few movies at home, it’s not making its way to me. I heard nothing but good reviews and she is a great actress. I never saw Titanic, either – maybe the only person on the planet.

    • V.H says:

      Well, speaking as a hetrosexual man. Titanic is a chick flick. That a ship sunk under them is purely incidental. In fact they resurrect the thing for the last scene.
      It may come as a surprise but men have a shagability rating system (which shockingly was changed by the spellchecker for a 2nd G). This is different from the hotness rating. In Titanic I doubt any man watching thought ‘I’d enjoy a night with her’.
      So you aren’t missing much. It’s balgh on levels yet plumbed.
      This one is different. There actually is real content. And something else, you actually feel sympathy for the Hanna Schmitz character, some sympathy. That I think is some bloody achievement given she was a camp guard at Auschwitz.

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