Life is Beautiful and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Comparative Analysis on the Ethics of Representation and the Holocaust.

In this context we shall pit two cinematic representations of the Holocaust (The Boy in The Striped Pajamas and Life is Beautiful) against each other in a comparative analysis on the ethics regarding Holocaust representations in the face of creative liberties taken by the director. In the name of artistic liberties taken by the director, exactly how much leeway can an artist be allowed before an “innovative,” fantastical interpretation of history becomes an intentional distortion?

It is safe to presume that neither   Director Mark Herman’s (2008) adaption of The Boy in The Striped Pajamas nor Director Roberto Benigni’s (1997) film Life is Beautiful, should be taken as a documentary on the Holocaust. Though Herman’s The Boy in The Striped Pajamas is based in realism, it is also based on the (2006) fictional children’s novel written by John Boyne.

ENG 4133 The boys

From L to R: Giosue (Life is Beautiful), Bruno, Shmuel (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas).

we shall pit two cinematic representations of the Holocaust (The Boy in The Striped Pajamas and Life is Beautiful) against each other in a comparative analysis on the ethics regarding Holocaust representations in the face of creative liberties taken by the director. In the name of artistic liberties taken by the director, exactly how much leeway can an artist be allowed before an “innovative,” fantastical interpretation of history becomes an intentional distortion?

).His application of comedic models within such a dark period of world history had originally made me deliberate on whether or not Benigni  was trying to approach the Holocaust from an outlook such as “I laugh to keep from crying,” hinting at the therapeutic  healing effects of laughter, and how it could be utilized to help heal a gaping emotional , psychological  wound .

However, after watching Life is Beautiful, I couldn’t help but equate the film to rubbing salt into wounds that have yet to heal. It was excruciatingly painful to watch. I mean really, a comedy about the Holocaust?ENG 4133 dadaism Realism

In films such as Benigni’s Life is Beautiful and Herman’s The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, the parents of Bruno and Joshua responded to the compulsory, perhaps even biological need to shelter their young, thus leaving their offspring to live “insulated from the knowledge of the true nature of his environment and the people who inhabit it” (Bullaro 237).

As illustrated within the final scenes in  The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, living in this cloud of ignorance can have dire consequences. It is because of the disturbing ending and the portrayal of violence within this film that I have argued throughout the length of this paper on my support of the realism portrayed within The Boy in The Striped Pajamas.

Unlike the film Life is Beautiful, within The Boy in The Striped Pajamas the camera did not pan away or averts its “gaze” elsewhere when faced with evidence of death and violence; to have done so would be to take part in the denial of the reality of the Holocaust, the treatment of the Jews, and the genocide to follow.Packed Like Sardines Aerial Shot

In Herman’s realistic portrayal following a plausible chain of causality, he shattered the viewer’s expectation that a film about the Holocaust would end with a contrived “And They Lived happily Ever After.” Rather, the camera stares straight-forward, daring it’s viewers to look death in the eye and not blink.

Beautiful Aerial Shot

Google Drive: The Gist of What I’m Saying


Dogtooth: Discussing the Disconcerting in Giorgos Lanthimos’ Film

Excerpt from Paper: [SPOILER ALERT!!!]

“Long before the quintessential scene of the Brother spearing a common stray cat with a pair of gardening shears, or the scene in which the Father goes psycho upside the Eldest sister’s head with a VHS tape, or even the nausea-inducing scene of brother and sister in an incestuous embrace—the audience receives a very loud warning of the weirdness to come. Giorgos Lanthimos’ film Dogtooth  opens with the disconcerting image of actress Mary Tsoni disfiguring a Barbie doll, screaming at the top of her lungs as if it was her very own toes that were being cut off by the pair of scissors in her hand.  It is at this point we, as the audience begins to wonder how deep into the rabbit hole of indie eccentricity are we jumping into.

Dogtooth, a bizarre twist of a “coming of age” story begins with a scene that very might very well denote an underlying layer of violence reminiscent of a repressive home in which children lacking agency, as well as an outlet for their creative energy turn to destruction instead.

The Crazy has Just Begun

…as illustrated by the cataclysmic chain of events that were to follow the Eldest sister’s viewings of Jaws and Rocky. The Father, symbolic of a totalitarian regime, goes after the roots of this “rebellion” so to speak, in order to quell the uprising and maintain the status quo he dictates.Nothing would ever be the same again, as noted by Fisher in his article “there is no returning to the sealed conditions which the films have contaminated (Fisher 25).” Once the Father has been made aware of this contamination, punishment is swiftly carried out.”

To be Continued…

Oral in exchange for Jaws and Rocky… Good Deal?

That’s what Dad would do if he found out you were licking keyboards. xD

Genius in the Shadow of Hollywood: Let The Right One In

“The more I watch Let the Right One In the more fascinated I become. The first time I had watched it was amongst friends.  It came highly recommended and at the time we were on a complete and total “Anti-Twilight” binge. There are rules in Vampyre mythology, almost to the point of being practically formulaic, and this is more for fan-service to the occult than anything else. However, as demonstrated by the large “Anti-Twilight” counterculture as rabid as those actually devoted to the Stephenie Meyer’s book (turned movie) series, an author does not simply disregard the most basic principles of vampire methodology, in lieu of Robert Pattinson’s sparkling, glittery abdominals. Exploding into what looks like confetti throw up, is not the same as spontaneously combusting in giant bursts of flames, while screaming in agony.
Favorite Line in the Film:
Oskar: How’d you solve it so fast?
Eli: I turned it.

In the book (to screenplay to movie) Let Right One In, at least the original author   John    Ajvide Lindqvist had the propensity to faithfully stick with motifs that are so deeply  embedded within occult horror film genre, while simultaneously “leaving room” —so to speak— to take creative liberties in order to revitalize the “tried and true” plot of a  coming of age story with romantic/ angst-ridded undertones (Wright 58).

….[he] quickly turned a precocious film about troubled youths and pre- pubescent “love,” into a downright proper horror film. When I say “Horror,” it is without  any Western qualifiers alluding to the campy Hollywood perception of a horror flick—   i.e. Freddy, from the Nightmare on Elmstreet and Jason, from the Friday the 13th movie empires. [In Let the Right One In] Audience members wince as they hear the crunch of  canines tearing into human flesh; We squirm as Eli slurps at his jugular vein as if it was a   lifeline; and then, finally we sympathize, as Eli breaks down sobbing at the murder she  has just committed. “The poor androgynous girl is starving! Let her eat!” the audience ultimately deliberates, and that is the genius of director Tomas Alfredson. ”
[EXCERPT from paper:

Let the Right One In: Translation or Rejection? That is the Question.]


Who could say no to this face?

FC: Online Discussion

Online Discussion (Combo #1+#2)

In retrospect the movies that considered quintessential to my induction into the world of film studies thus far are those centered on Marxism, Socialism, or leftist theories. Not because I am secretly harboring socialist sympathies (haha–no). Rather because in my English 3010 class, modern criticism and theory, we spent close to the majority of February studying the school of Marxist literary criticism and those who spout/ support it, and how fundamental it’s focus on binary oppositions (the proletariat, working mass vs. the bourgeois, elitist few), and how instrumental it was in the shaping of other schools of literary criticism. This was my thought process while watching such movies as Good Bye Lenin, Touch of Spice, and even Pan’s Labyrinth.

In Goodbye Lenin, The revolution set afoot with the reunification of socialist, East Germany with capitalist, democratic West Germany reflected the clashing of differing economic and societal philosophies. While some accepted the change wholeheartedly, thus lending themselves to the commodification and in some cases the westernization of their country (e.g. Coca-Cola, Holland Pickles, and sister dropping out of College to work at Burger King to engage in “currency exchange”). This is lending to Marxist theory that once an individual is paid for use of their skill set (hourly wage or annual salary), the individual themselves has been reduced to the status of commodity, to be bought and sold, and whose use-value is determined by their production rate. Essentially, everything and everyone has a price tag.

So naturally, when we covered “Euro pudding” in The Spanish Apartment and debated in class on whether or not we were being presented an “accurate” portrayal of a European student abroad or, was it in fact a privileged, bourgeois depiction—this is what my mind automatically leaps to: One month’s worth of Marxism. Concepts such as diaspora, “the male gaze,” and hegemony in the face of the privileged class is reminiscent on courses from the previous semester (LIT4188/ LIT 4685). Both classes focused on the effects of imperialism on the subjugated masses, exile/relocation, and the ripple effects on later generations as portrayed through literature (esp. in terms of classifying a one’s identity).

As I am flipping through the course pack now, just judging on how full the margins are with my scribble of notes and the like, I can tell where my interests are centered. For example, judging by the multitude of highlighters used for Jonathan Ellis and Ana Maria Sanchez-Arce’s article “The Un-Quiet Dead: Memories of the Spanish Civil War in Guillermo Del Toro’s Cinema,” I found it to be quite illuminating. I especially appreciated the multi-faceted approach in the interpretation of the symbolism within the story (emphasis on the left eye, equating to Spanish dictator Franco, or the Flesh monster as depiction of the Roman Catholic Church, who had sided with Franco in the Spanish Civil War, consequently partly responsible of the butchering of its loyal patronage). Or the representation of Carmen and Mercedes as two separate modes of Femininity: the submissive vs. the subversive within the prevalent system of patriarchy. Being an enthusiast of feminist theory, I devoured these interpretations up like chocolate.

The bulk of my highlighter kaleidoscope explosions center around the brief chapter on New Queer Cinema defining identity (and the spectator’s gaze with From the Edge of the City);  as well as transnationalism with Eleftheriotis’ article (with A Touch of Spice), Pan European Cinema, the article categorizing all the different types of cinema, and many more. Consequently, it would appear that articles that I have thoroughly enjoyed have challenged my way of thinking, meaning that I can no longer continue my role as a passive consumer taking in the movie at face value, solely appreciating the aesthetics. Nowadays, it’s mise-en-scene this and diegetic sound that, movies have been essentially ruined for me by hyper- analyzing the meta-text. Now, the cinematic experience eludes me. It has become impossible to remove my scholarly goggles. My question to the class is am I the only one playing this balancing act between consumer and scholar? Or is it my own neurosis at play?

From The Edge of the City: Juxtaposing Masculinity with the Spectator’s Gaze


As the audience, our role is that of the spectator. We are the spectators to the debacle that is Russo “Sasha” Pond’s life. We can only watch with our eyes fixated on the screen as the inevitable train wreck occurs: partly  out of the anticipation of what will happen next, partly out of crude fascination. In this sense the audience has become both spectators and voyeurs. Spectators denoting the (using Dimitris Papanikolaou’s term) “nationfuck” of a viewing “privileged position” economically, living conditions, opportunities afforded, etc.   I imagine it to be similar this respect to the crowd of gawkers that surround Kotsian among the numerous police cars.  The term “voyeur” denotes a particular type of perverse fascination, in this instance of a “model of the gaze that itself is queer” (Papanikolaou 194).  Through the cinematic representation in the film From the Edge of the City, the audience as spectators would have attempted to gain a steady foothold in the turbulent world of drugs, indiscriminate casual sex, and horrendous house music, while simultaneously confronting the juxtaposition of fluid sexuality and the underlying masculinity codes dictating the lives of a gangly group of teens of the Russian-Greek (Pontic) population circa late 1990’s. [To be continued in paper…]

Establishing Shot of the Central Characters (L to R): Panagiotis, Kotsian, Sasha.

“Object of Visual Pleasure for the Voyeuristic Gaze” aka Sasha’s Abs ~_^

Fig. 1 Sasha/ Niko. (Gaze x 2): Object of the Voyeuristic Male Gaze w/ Niko. Spectator’s Gaze w/ Audience.

Kostian: Object of the Male “Gaze” Fetishized as a evidenced by the close-ups of the leers and “knowing smiles” on the men’s faces.

Mise-en-Scène #1: Red Light= Red Light District, I didn’t understand that Omonia was the district for sex trade until the red lights became more prevalent within the story telling.

Mise-en-Scène #2: Use of Sepia tones to demonstrate Nostalgia and/ or Dream sequence.

Representation and Spectatorship: Sasha was being a Voyeur in the literal sense as he peeped in on Natasha “in action”.