Monday, February 9, 2009

"The Reader/Der Vorleser" (2008)

Last nite, at what Ivo called a 'civilized' hour (7pm), we went to West San Jose's Santana Row CineArts theater & saw "The Reader" (2008) starring Ralph Fiennes & Kate Winslett playing a Nazi-era working-class German whose 'moral idiocy' led her take job as an Auschwitz guard after one at a Siemens plant. Her tragic flaw is that on trial, she is too simple-minded to not admit that it was a voluntary choice (thus condemning herself) & to disguise that she was illiterate then (finally only learning to read in prison.) The more I tell you about her will only complicate your sympathy for her, but I believe that the only commensurate (forget just) penalty for her & her cohort of 6 female guards is death (for having 'selected' women & children for gassing), yet that isn't the sentence pronounced. Instead, she gets life (serving only 20 yrs) & the others 4.5 years each because they claim "she was in charge" (she wasn't, but doesn't dare admit her illiteracy - which could easily prove it.) Calling her life a tragedy only diminishes the tragic deaths of her victims, so what are we left with? Are we ready to be responsible for all the crimes we committed on our jobs? Or do we believe we’re trapped in History’s web? Did we perform our jobs just to live or only just to survive? If we finally realize our guilt, when & what type of justice do we administer to ourselves as both victims & victimizers? Which wrist do we slash first?

(08-9 FEB 09, Santa Clara CA)

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