Framing the Witness
The video begins with familiar material: images from newsreels, old photographs, melancholy music, all evoking the difficult and disturbing history of the Holocaust. A disembodied voice comes over the images, sounding vaguely familiar. Soon, the images fade and are replaced by that of a distinguished-looking gentleman walking slowly through a high-tech media centre. And then we recognize him: Ben Kingsley, well-known actor and recent co-star of the Holocaust blockbuster Schindler’s List. Though he looks ‘normal’ in this setting, we cannot help but think of him in his movie persona, Yitzhak Stern, the paradigmatic Jew of the film, standing-in then (and now?) for the impersonal mass of Jewish suffering of the Shoah. In this appearance, Kingsley represents, perhaps, the doubled (though in this case assumed) identity of the survivor, embodying two distinct strains of lived and remembered experience: life then, ‘over there’, and life now, ‘over here’. The blurring and confusion is intentional: we are meant to conflate the two roles Kingsley plays and understand something about the frames of reference this video offers as a result.
KeywordsTelevision Screen Holocaust Education Holocaust Memory Testimonial Process Promotional Video
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