Friday, January 29, 2010

Glorious Bastards – a review of the film Inglourious Basterds: I am Jewish and I LOVED this film. I wasn't prepared to love it as I had heard about the violence which I often cannot endure but I did love the film. Why? I was born in 1948 after the greatest catastrophe, the Holocaust, was perpetrated on the Jewish people – my people. Thankfully, I never experienced it but year after year I absorbed the horror of it in film and by the word of mouth from parents and friends who knew about it or experienced themselves the evil that had befallen our people. I have viewed hundreds of hours of film footage of it, documentaries on it, bought and read books and anthologies about it, viewed TV drama devoting hours to it, viewed and participated in lengthy discussions and yet through all of that one burning question remains and it is not necessarily the word why. We can find thousands of rationales for the Holocaust but the question of what can we do about it remains illusive. As a naïve child I said to my parents but we won the war as if that were the happy ending of it. The answer always was an unsatisfying yes we won the war but … .

The trials at Nuremberg, the trial of Eichmann, the imprisonment and execution of some of Nazi hierarchy to be sure was some satisfaction but not the kind of satisfaction I desired for such unpardonable and unspeakable crimes. I had to face reality. There was no revenge huge enough and there was certainly nothing that could bring back the cerebrally unfathomable six million. What does six million mean? It is an utterly incomprehensible number made even worse because it is a number that COULD have included me. Only an accident of location and time of birth made me a learner about and not a victim of those events at that horrible time. Still, there is no revenge which is able to give purpose to the purposeless. That is a hard reality for a Jew who was born in America to swallow. Are not the good guys supposed to win? Do not the bad guys get sent to hell? The answer is a discouraging no the good guys do not always prevail and no, the bad guys probably do not end up in hell. Truly there is no good ending for this incredible story.

This film, though, albeit in fiction form, satisfied the desire for revenge for those dastardly deeds perpetrated within a historical minute slightly more than 65 years ago. The end of the film was the Dante’s inferno for the Nazi curse. It was glorious to watch as hell by Jewish hands was visited upon the entire Nazi hierarchy including Hitler himself in the confines of a beautiful theater as if the entire war was played out right then and there on film and I rejoiced. I felt like I took a bath in flames that cleansed the world and me of one of man’s most horrific crimes. It was as if God himself burned the screen, blew up the theater where Nazi big wigs sat and screamed to them this is Jewish revenge; this is Jewish punishment for what you have done. I loved it and wished it were true.

Alas, it is not true though as it is a work of fiction. So afterward I am bounced back to reality yet again and know there is nothing I can or will be able to ever do about it. I can as a Jew never exact my pound of flesh but I did, for over two hours, feel as if I had.

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