Unbridgeable barriers : the Holocaust in Canadian cinema / by Jeremy Maron
- Ann Arbor, MI : UMI Dissertation Services, 2011
Includes bibliographical references (pages 394-417)
This dissertation explores the treatment of the Holocaust in Canadian cinema. It argues that Canadian films have emphasized experiential barriers that challenge the Holocaust's representation within a Canadian context. At the broadest level these barriers function historically, manifesting the geographic distance between Canada and the Holocaust during World War II (WWII). More commonly, Canadian films enact these barriers at the interpersonal level via emotional or cognitive barriers between individuals who experienced the Holocaust (i.e. survivors who have moved to Canada) and those who did not (i.e. Canadians surrounding the survivors who lack the experience to understand their past). Chapter One establishes absence as a central problematic for Canadian Holocaust cinema. It pays particular attention to films that focus on Canada's WWII history, which does not (at least easily) include a confrontation with the Holocaust. Chapter Two considers the legacy of these historical barriers on an individual level through films that feature troubled relations between survivors and specifically Canadian socio-political contexts. Chapter Three looks at films that imply the invisibility of the barriers around Canadian survivors, which localizes the Holocaust squarely in their experiential memory, and thus renders it absent outside of them. Chapter Four shifts focus to films that aim to "resolve" this barrier by making the Holocaust present outside the individual experiences of survivors – first by emphasizing the shared quality of the Holocaust experience amongst groups of survivors, and second by documenting the return of survivors to the spaces of their past. Chapter Five concentrates on films that also aim to efface the barrier of experience, but through the process of those lacking a direct experience of the Holocaust appropriating an experiential perspective. The final chapter looks at films by Jack Kuper, a Holocaust survivor from Toronto. Kuper's films posit a clear division between himself looking back on an event that he experienced, and the event itself. By emphasizing this division of subjectivity, this survivor's films suggest the perpetual cognitive absence of the Holocaust, placing the event outside of representation, even for those who lived through it. These films thus intimate a barrier in, rather than of experience.
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