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Thread: Polanski's THE PIANIST

  1. #31

    Irony flourishes where the soil is rich...

    Irony flourishes where the soil is rich. It is a literary device historically respected, and if done well, admired. It takes a special mind to fully appreciate it.

  2. #32
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    I am a great admirer and longtime appreciator of irony. I was referring to the medium of internet threads, in which answers come hard and fast out of nowhere and in which context is very often not well enough established to allow for the precise perception of such subtleties of tone and language as irony requires. But you may, if you wish, disregard my clumsy self defense and choose instead to think that I was just being dumb. It happens.

    You need not defend irony, though.

    It sometimes seems that what flourishes best in this medium is the non sequitur.

  3. #33
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    RE: THE GERMAN CHARACTER post

    I wish you would tell us where in your post you express a meaning that is the direct opposite of the intended one. Where is the irony in your prejudiced comment that in Germany "there is an undercurrent of regret that the final solution was not completely carried out" or elsewhere in the first paragraph. Maybe you used irony in the second paragraph, you know, about a Holocaust Museum in Berlin,etc. Well, Berlin's Jewish Museum is Europe's largest, a gorgeous building in the shape of an elongated Star of David, with wings dedicated to Holocaust history as well as other periods. Please show me the irony.

    vbloom: I do not know you. I cannot judge you, only your comments. They are vile, prejudiced and hateful. Your excuse (being ironic) falls apart under minimal scrutiny.

  4. #34
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    I would not want to be as harsh toward vbloom as Oscar Jubis is here -- not quite, anyway! But it begins to seem that what vbloom is calling "irony" is simply an unwillingness to take a clear position. I still think as I said earlier that there is every reason not to take William Grim's account of the German audience of "The Pianist" at face value. Even if the audience did laugh or titter as much as Grim said, they might not need to be either pitied or scorned. They may have been expressing incomprehension. But I would agree with Oscar Jubis's suggestion that vbloom's statements about German and other national characters are too confused to be taken as irony. If it is right to say that there's no such thing as a German national character, as vbloom began by granting, then you can't go on and say that Germans are sorry they lost the war and failed to exterminate the Jews. vbloom wrote: "it must be admitted that there remains in Germany a deep core of resentment about their defeat in WWII and an undercurrent of regret that the FINAL SOLUTION was not completely carried out." This is exactly of the same order as saying that all Germans are at heart still Nazis, and it is reprehensible, and surely false. It may be that vbloom suffers from deep confusion here, of a nature that is both intellectual and moral.

  5. #35

    To Knipp and Jubis

    The irony is in ridiculously characterizing the Spanish character, the Greek character, etc., as if such generalizations can truly be made. I mean the opposite--- such generalizations cannot be made. I did say that in Germany there is "an undercurrent" of feeling regret or disappointment that the Nazis didn't win or that all the Jews weren't killed. This was later interpreted (falsely) as my saying ALL Germans feel this way, which is certainly not the case. Would he deny the undercurrent? I don't know how large or deep it is. Can anybody tell me or venture a guess or know something from personal experience? Grim was grim, but not all wrong. One does not titter over incomprehension. There is more than a trace or suggestion of 'schadenfreude.' Would anybody care to dispute this contention?

  6. #36
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    we are not on the same page, in more senses than one

    You misquote yourself, vbloom. You did not say "an undercurrent" of "feeling regret or disappointment," you said "a deep core of resentment."

    There is a significant difference between these two ways of stating it. What you originally said is far more sweeping and emphatic. You seem to have a tendency to shift your views back and forth, sometimes even within a single statement, sometimes between separate statements, here.

  7. #37

    undercurrent or deep core

    Chris Knipp, give me a break! I am 71 and my memory does not always serve me well. Still, I am consistent when it comes to the deep core of my belief. You misquoted me as saying that ALL Germans have this Nazi inclination. I never said that and do not believe that. However, would you deny that a deep core or undercurrent of Nazi ideology continues in present day Germany? I don't know how prevalent it is. Perhaps you can inform me.

  8. #38
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    Why should you get a break? You don't have to have a good memory because we have our texts right in front of us to refer to on the screen. Yes, I do disagree with your assertion that "a deep core or undercurrent of Nazi ideology continues in present day Germany" (I'm cutting and pasting so I don't quote you wrong). I even question whether there was ever "a deep core or undercurrent of Nazi ideology" in the Germany of any time, taking this statement as comprehensively as it is phrased. Most of all I don't see the value or purpose of such vague, sweeping accusations in a world where reconciliation and healing are what we most need. The burden of proof is with you. Why do you keep repeating these statements? If you "don't know how prevalent it is," in short don't know what you're talking about, why don't you cease and desist?

  9. #39

    Has the Nazi ideology ever flourished or existed in Germany?

    Why should you get a break? You don't have to have a good memory because we have our texts right in front of us to refer to on the screen. Yes, I do disagree with your assertion that "a deep core or undercurrent of Nazi ideology continues in present day Germany" (I'm cutting and pasting so I don't quote you wrong). I even question whether there was ever "a deep core or undercurrent of Nazi ideology" in the Germany of any time, taking this statement as comprehensively as it is phrased. Most of all I don't see the value or purpose of such vague, sweeping accusations in a world where reconciliation and healing are what we most need. The burden of proof is with you. Why do you keep repeating these statements? If you "don't know how prevalent it is," in short don't know what you're talking about, why don't you cease and desist?

    Since I don't get a break for memory... using the exact words I used before, but having the same meaning, I have copied and pasted your last entry. Since you question whether there WAS EVER a deep core OR undercurrent of Nazi ideology, instead of writing a long treatise on my shock and amazement, I will simply refer you to Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners." Before we discuss whether you ever read the book, heard of the book or refute the book, you sound very much like a Holocaust revisionist. Let me ask you, since I think this exchange is getting personal, whether or not you are a young German who is interested in the image of Germany and would prefer to remember it as the country of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schiller and Goethe, rather than of Hitler, Goering, Goebbels and Eichmann. The real Germany is an amalgam of good and evil, civilized and barbaric, just like any other nationality. It is true that this has always been a world where reconciliation and healing are sorely needed, but good cannot come from a denial of history and reality.

  10. #40
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    I return to what docraven wrote about William Grim’s piece at the outset of this thread: “There are some extreme, even outrageous points made in this review. I not only find them difficult to believe, but think they suggest a characteristic of the German people that is inflammatory — does nothing to promote real understanding.”

    I have studied Grim’s piece carefully (I'd hesistate to call it a review: it's too agenda-driven) and I can find nothing in it to contradict docraven's original comment on it.

    I'd like to remind vbloom of what he originally wrote about the laughter Grim describes in the German audience of ‘’The Pianist”: "I would suggest that the laughing was from unconscious sources, not necessarily from hatred of the Jews, but the laughter of people who are made nervous ‘nervous laughter,’ which is not glee, but disturbance. It was certainly disturbing to see what their German forbears actually did.”

    I have no desire to become personal but I am none of the things vbloom suggests. I am a participant in Filmwurld forums who is sorry that Grim’s inflammatory article led us away from our discussion of Roman Polanski’s powerful “The Pianist,” which we are here to talk about. I admire the film greatly and think that the events it recounts are substantially true. It is not a fabrication. There was a Holocaust. Hitler did have “silent executioners.” He also had millions of passive victims. But unlike vbloom, unlike William Grim, I don’t want to jump from a viewing of the film to assertions about modern Germans feeling “ an undercurrent of regret that the FINAL SOLUTION was not completely carried out" (vbloom's words), or that inside every German today there is a Nazi gesturing to be let out (William Grim's assertion). My disagreements with William Grim and with vbloom do not make me a Holocaust denier. How could I admire “The Pianist” if I were? This is not a rational assertion. In responding to a film as powerful as “The Pianist” concerning events as horrific as the ones it recounts, we need balance and compassion, and we need to stay away from stereotypes. But obviously for some that's a tall order. However bix171 describes himself as the child of HOlocaust survivers and writes that he wants "very much to forgive" and "to get on with it." One would hope that a film like "The Pianist" would provide a kind of cathartic experience that could help people to "forgive" and"get on with it" -- without ever forgetting.

    "The Pianist" is a vivid reminder. But it's not a treatise on the German character.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 01-25-2003 at 03:14 PM.

  11. #41

    Appropriate personal reactions to "The Pianist"


    Mr Knipp seems to feel that the appropriate and timely response to "The Pianist" is one of healing and compassion. He would feel differently if he were a Jew, especially a Jew who was subjected at a tender age to vicious and ongoing anti-Semitism. I was such a Jew, a child of the streets of the Bronx, New York in the 1930's. My tormenters made no bones of the fact that they wished that Hitler won the war, so that the Nazis could come to America and throw me into the ovens. It was 1939. I was 8.

    A movie is a work of art, and a real work of art provokes different thoughts and feelings in different people, and people vary in what they require to come to a stage of healing and compassion. What is required of some is purging, ventilation, of deepseated feelings of fear and anger. This is necessary for true healing, and not just covering up and acting 'nice.'

    "The Pianist" was just such a work of art, as have been some of the others mentioned, "Schindler's List," "Europa, Europa," "The Glass Box" and "Judgment at Nuremberg."

    In "The Pianist," what was shown was the extent of Nazi barbarism, completely unprovoked by the helpless, hapless, innocent, civilian Jews. What Mr. Knipp fails to realize is that the details of this great film, shown in stark reality, remind the audience of what happened. Those who are Jews, or who can identify with Jews, react differently from those who are not.

    How is it possible to understand the full extend of the FINAL SOLUTION, and the details, including random shootings, beatings, humiliation, torture, torment, debasement without having some question about THE GERMAN CHARACTER? How is it possible to understand the systematic, relentless nature of the murders and robberies, the extraction of gold from the teeth, the lampshades made of human skin, the tattooing of numbers, erasing the identity of individuals on a massive scale, without having some question about THE GERMAN CHARACTER?

    What is wrong with my speculating about THE GERMAN CHARACTER? What harm does it do, except to Mr Knipp's desire, admirable though it may be, to skim over the question of THE GERMAN CHARACTER.

    Let someone come forward and give some explanation for history's worst example of barbarism and evil, before we leave the question of THE GERMAN CHARACTER.

    If Mr. Grim raises the grim question of THE GERMAN CHARACTER, it is not without some reason, some rationale, no matter what else he has said about anything.

  12. #42
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    Re: Appropriate personal reactions to "The Pianist"

    The roots, causes, and circumstances surrounding the expression of man's inhumanity to man are not to be found in the "character" of a specific nation. It goes deeper. It is not that simple. Demonizing descendants of Nazi Germany will not help prevent future holocausts. I felt sad reading about you being tormented as a child. It is difficult to practice good judgement and clear analysis at your level of personal involvement. Moreover, you seem to have a tendency toward stereotypical thinking, in general. The quote below is further proof.
    Originally posted by vbloom

    Mr Knipp seems to feel that the appropriate and timely response to "The Pianist" is one of healing and compassion. He would feel differently if he were a Jew

  13. #43

    Stereotypical thinking...

    The roots, causes, and circumstances surrounding the expression of man's inhumanity to man are not to be found in the "character" of a specific nation. It goes deeper. It is not that simple. Demonizing descendants of Nazi Germany will not help prevent future holocausts. I felt sad reading about you being tormented as a child. It is difficult to practice good judgement and clear analysis at your level of personal involvement. Moreover, you seem to have a tendency toward stereotypical thinking, in general. The quote below is further proof.

    quote:
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by vbloom

    Mr Knipp seems to feel that the appropriate and timely response to "The Pianist" is one of healing and compassion. He would feel differently if he were a Jew...

    To Mr Jubis I ask, if the roots, causes and circumstances surrounding the expression of man's inhumanity to man are not to be found in the "character" of a specific nation, but go deeper, where are they to be found?

    I am not "demonizing" the descendents of Nazi Germany; I am merely raising a question.

    I appreciate Mr. Jubis feeling sad at my being tormented as a child. Does the fact of my having feelings about it take me out of the realm of good judgment and clear analysis?

    What detachment and absence of personal experience and feeling enable one to be qualified for "good judgment" and "clear analysis?"

    Do you think Roman Polanski's film "The Pianist" was one to foster good judgment and clear analysis?

    NO! It was to reveal what happened and show the depths of depravity which a people at a certain place and time were capable of!

    He showed evil Germans and evil Jews and evil Polish people. He showed what humans are capable of, which we amazingly call--- "inhuman."

    I don't say that only Germans have the potential and capacity for evil. It is present in all humans. That is a generalization I don't believe any aware and thinking person would deny.

    But questions have been raised, by others than myself and Mr. Grim, that something has to be said about THE GERMAN CHARACTER, after World War I, the "War to End All Wars," that the German people would rally around a Hitler and his evil crew.

    The Holocaust was singular in human history for the degree of bestiality which rose to sustained action in World War II.

    So far no one has successfully explained why the most extreme evil in the history of man arose from a people with such members as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

    Polanski raises this question with the German officer who played the Moonlight Sonata and spared the life of the Jew who played Chopin.

    Why only one German?

    vb

  14. #44

    A tendency toward stereotypical thinking...

    ... in general...

    I have a tendency toward stereotypical thinking... in general.

    That is a generalization, typical of stereotypical thinking. The human mind has a tendency toward stereotypical thinking, and not all of it is bad or wrong. Not all of it leads to misguided thinking or prejudice or racism.

    There are certain generalizations which hold true, that Mediterranean people are more apt to be overtly emotional than the Nordic or Anglo-Saxon types. For movie afficionados, consider the films of Fellini and Bergman as illustrative.

    Of course there are exceptions. The German officer who played the Moonlight Sonata and didn't kill Szpilman is an exception to the Nazi stereotype. However, "The Pianist" was replete with brutal Nazi stereotypes, based on recorded history, with many eye-witnesses, documents and film footage as reference data. The many Holocaust movies and memorial museums document Nazi history and revealed a stereotype of the German Nazi as largely uncivilized and brutal.

    It is true that not all Germans were Nazis. I am not saying that every German living today is a Nazi sympathizer or a potential Nazi. But the undercurrent is there in THE GERMAN CHARACTER and many people have observed it since WWII. The most blatant form is manifest in the skinheads and Holocaust revisionists.

    Stereotypical thinking is a shortcut method of the brain in learning and adaptation. Some generalizations are apt and generally accepted. Others, of course, are in dispute.

    Another stereotype currently in dispute is of Islam and Muslims, especially Arab Muslims. Some say they are basically merciful and compassionate, according to the dictates of Allah. Others say, viewing current events, that being an Arab Muslim you are likely to hate Americans and Jews and justify the killing of them, according to a Jihad which is commanded by Allah.

    But each Arab Muslim is an individual, and has his own opinion and is capable of some choice. Some choose to live peaceably and would like to negotiate. Others choose being a suicide-bomber, hoping to be a martyr. Others are simply sympathetic to the justifications and aims of the terrorists.

    Is it stereotypical thinking to say that anti-Semitism is endemic and growing within Islam and Europe?

  15. #45
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    I'm not a skinhead/neo-nazi type!

    If you wanna know how powerful a leader Hitler was (and how he came to believe that he was doing the right thing for the future of humanity) read Mein Kampf. I read it as a curious civilian who wanted to know how "Hitler arose from the nation that gave us Beethoven" (paraphrasing). Also see the film Triumph of the Will.

    "Triumph" will show you:

    - How he made the crowd wait for HOURS before appearing to speak. (He was the first to exploit "fashionably late" imho)

    -How when he finally did appear he would be silent until it "was time" to speak.

    - How when he finally spoke he spoke softly, gently, drawing his people into his inspiring words (!)

    -How he would build in performance- shaking his fists, shouting at the gods, declaring the Reich as the end-all be-all of kingdoms on earth. What peasant german wouldn't be aroused?

    Hitler had the powers of persuasion all charismatic people posess:
    JFK, MLK, Malcolm X, Jerry Rubin, Abby Hoffman, hell, even Oscar the Grouch & Hulk Hogan have the same power to captivate..

    'Ol Adolf was a psychopath-just like Napoleon Bonaparte.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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