In this episode, Dara Horn revisits Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Holocaust movie Schindler’s List, along with Spielberg’s blockbuster dinosaur movie Jurassic Park-- which he worked on simultaneously, returning from the brutal Polish concentration camp set each evening to edit brutal velociraptor footage. Together these movies reveal many aspects of what we expect from Hollywood storytelling. What’s the cost of applying that narrative arc to a story about the Holocaust? And what might be the moral motivations of a Tyrannosaurus Rex?
Horn takes us through Spielberg’s elaborate process (which involved building an entire concentration camp from scratch), revisits the film and its rapturous reception, and speaks with a historian, a film critic, and a filmmaker focused on Holocaust rescuers to parse out what the movie gets wrong and also what it gets right-- and why watching it today feels so painfully different from how it felt in 1993.
More information about Spielberg’s experiences filming Schindler’s List and editing Jurassic Park can be found in The Making of Schindler’s List: Behind the Scenes of an Epic Film by Franciszek Palowski. Spielberg expresses some of his own thoughts about it 25 years later here.
Sara Horowitz’s and Omer Bartov’s essays detailing their responses to the film can be found in Spielberg’s Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler’s List, edited by Yosefa Loshitzky.
Pierre Sauvage’s documentary film on the rescuers of Le Chambon in France is Weapons of the Spirit. His forthcoming documentary And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry and the Refugee Crisis, Marseille 1940-1941, is a comprehensive look at the American rescuer. More information is available here.
Further exploration of Varian Fry and the questions raised by his work can be found in “On Rescuing Jews and Others” in People Love Dead Jews by Dara Horn.
Adventures with Dead Jews is brought to you by Tablet Studios and Soul Shop. It’s created and written by Dara Horn, and produced and edited by Josh Kross and Robert Scaramuccia. The managing producer is Sara Fredman Aeder, and the executive producers are Liel Leibovitz, Stephanie Butnick, Gabi Weinberg and Dan Luxenberg. We hope you’ll rate and review it wherever you get your podcasts, so that more people can join us on our adventures.
Dara Horn’s new book, People Love Dead Jews, is published by WW Norton and is available wherever books are sold. It's also available as an audio book from Recorded Books. We hope you’ll check it out.
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