The Holocaust And 9/11: Universal Truths?
”The critical reception of the film version of ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ brings to mind charges leveled against some Shoah works.
(The Jewish Week) -- by Eric Herschthal --
Perhaps it should be no surprise that some of the same criticisms that met Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel about Sept. 11, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” published in 2005, are now being leveled against the new film adaptation. Like the book, the film has drawn strong, often biting rebukes from critics who feel it exploits some of Sept. 11’s most harrowing images—the picture of the falling man leaping to his death, in particular—and universalizes a unique tragedy.
Few have been more lacerating than The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis, who wrote in her review that the film has “no reason for being other than as another pop-culture palliative for a trauma it can’t bear to face. … Yes,” she went on, “you may cry, but when tears are milked as they are here, the truer response should be rage.”
Dargis was not alone in her fury. In fact, several reviews made two similar critiques over and over: one, the film universalized a unique tragedy, and two, it exploited a historical trauma. You begin to wonder, Where have I heard this before? For me, at least, the answer was in the critical reaction to movies about the Holocaust. One need only take a cursory look at the criticism of mainstream films like “Schindler’s List” and “Life Is Beautiful” to roll one’s eyes and think, I’ve heard this all before.
That’s not to say that some of the criticism of “Extremely Loud” is unjustified. I don’t buy the exploitation argument — perhaps the film and book are too sentimental, but I don’t think they’re disingenuous. I can say with certainty, however, that universalizing the Sept. 11 tragedy is a clear intention of both the film and the book...
Oddly, there is almost no mention of the Holocaust, aside from a very brief reference to a Jew that Oskar’s grandfather hid during the war. But Foer, a Jewish author, is no stranger to Holocaust fiction. His best-selling debut novel, “Everything Is Illuminated,” (also made into a film) told the story of a young American Jew, many of whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust, searching for his family’s past...MORE...LINK
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