Debating the Merits of The Reader

Oscar-worthy or revisionist whitewashing?

by | February 13, 2009 | Comments

When you read the list of Best Picture nominations for this year’s Academy Awards and saw The Reader nestled in between Slumdog Millionare and Milk, were you surprised? Well, you’re in good company — and for some, the response goes further than mere surprise: There’s a small backlash movement brewing among writers who believe The Reader makes some questionable (to say the least) statements about the Holocaust, and this week, Slate’s Ron Rosenbaum and the Huffington Post’s Rod Lurie used their columns to make a case against the film.

In a piece titled “Don’t Give an Oscar to The Reader,” Rosenbaum leads off by calling The Reader “the worst Holocaust film ever made,” and goes on from there to build a detailed three-page argument against giving it the highest honor the film industry has to offer — and pauses to scrutinize what he deems similar offenses in Valkyrie. Read the whole article by following the link below.

Offering a similar opinion, Rod Lurie wrote a column titled “The Holocaust Revisionism of Hollywood,” which he leads off by saying The Reader “gives ammunition to Holocaust negationists,” goes on to reference Ron Rosenbaum’s article, and from there proceeds to offer a point-by-point dismantling of the film’s presentation of World War II history. It isn’t as long as Rosenbaum’s article, but it reaches the same conclusion — The Reader doesn’t deserve a Best Picture nomination.

Of course, you could find (or make) an argument against pretty much any nomination — but in this case, the film in question has stirred up feelings that run deeper than simple dislike for a film. Check out both articles, and see what you think: Should The Reader have gone down as one of 2008’s best movies?

Source: Slate (Ron Rosenbaum article)
Source: The Huffington Post (Rod Lurie article)

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