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The "Jew" in Cinema


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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations1. The "Jew" as Perpetrator
2. The "Jew" as Victim
3. The "Jew" as Hero
4. The "Jew" as Anti-HeroNotes

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Explores cinematic representations of the "Jew" from film's early days to the present.

About the Author

Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University. His many books include Hitler's Army, Mirrors of Destruction, and Germany's War and the Holocaust. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


In this important work, Omer Bartov examines how the cinematic representations of the 'Jew' as 'perpetrator', 'victim', 'hero' and 'anti-hero' emerge not only throughout the course of film history, but also within a larger cultural practice of stereotyping Jewish identity. His central concern is 'the manner in which the cinematic ''Jew'' reflects the popularization, transformation, resistance to, and reintroduction of anti-Semitic imagery'.Vol. 43, no. 2, 2009

-- Noah Shenker * Ph.D. candidate in Critical Studies at the School of Cinematic Arts,USCLA *

A noted Holocaust scholar, Bartov (history, Brown) has written an extended analytical essay-as distinguished from an encyclopedia study-on the treatment of the figure of the Jew in some 70 European, American, and Israeli motion pictures. He examines these depictions under four separate categories: Jew as perpetrator, victim, hero, and antihero. As the subtitle indicates, the movies studied range chronologically from the 1920 German silent classic The Golem to Don't Touch My Holocaust (1994) and several others produced in Israel and dealing with current Jewish-Arab relations. Most of the films inevitably relate to the Shoah, its origins or aftereffects, and Bartov notes that Gentleman's Agreement (1947) managed to avoid mentioning the Holocaust almost entirely even though it deals with a journalist who posed as a Jew in order to investigate anti-semitism. Bartov's evaluations of individual films are perceptive and often provocative. He calls the television miniseries Holocaust (1978) one of the best cinematic productions ever made on this allegedly unrepresentable event despite its aesthetic limitations and occasional lapses into kitsch, and he is critical of accounts that distort historical reality by focusing on exceptional cases (The Pianist, Schindler's List) because they impede understanding and perpetuate stereotypes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.July 2005

-- L. D. Stokes * emeritus, Dalhousie University *

Bartov's style is refreshingly free of theoretical jargon and accessible to a wide audience. . . . a rich, deeply historicized, thoughtful, and provocative reading of a wide range of world cinema that grapples with the representation of Jewishness on screen.

* Shofar *

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