Winslets The Reader faces renewed Jewish criticism in the run-up to Oscars

February 18th, 2009 - 2:43 pm ICT by ANI  

London, February 18 (ANI): In the run-up to the Oscar Awards, British actress Kate Winslet is reported to be facing renewed criticism from the Jewish community over her controversial role as a Nazi in the Holocaust film The Reader.
The film, based on Bernhard Schlink’’s best-selling novel of the same name, has been hit by accusations of “Holocaust revisionism”.
It features Winslet as Hanna Schmitz, a former concentration camp guard who stood by as 300 prisoners met their death in a burning church.
At her war crimes trial, she accepts a longer prison sentence than her co-accused rather than admit that she is illiterate.
“Essentially, it takes a woman who serves in, is responsible for, is complicit in, you pick the words, in the deaths of at least 300 Jews - and her big secret shame is that she’’s illiterate,” the Telegraph quoted Mark Weitzman, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, as telling the New York Post.
The newspaper suggests that film critics are divided whether or not the best actress Oscar should go to Winslet.
The supporters of rival films are also said to have emailed Jewish members of the Academy to ruin The Reader’’s chances.
Award-winning novelist and screenwriter Gabrielle Burton, though accepts that the film was “flawlessly crafted” with fine performances, has written on the Huffington Post website that the movie left her feeling “uncomfortable, disturbed and ultimately deeply troubled”.
The Reader is “too close to that scary genre ”Holocaust palatable”: Hanna Schmitz not quite the SS guard with a heart of gold, but the SS guard pitied for her illiteracy, rather than six million Jews lamented for their loss,” Burton says.
“I”m all for films that upset and disturb people, but that’’s not what this film was going for. It was going for Academy Awards. If The Reader weren”t so beautifully made, and so aggressively marketed by (studio boss) Harvey Weinstein who’’s not really thinking deeply on this one, it might not matter so much. But in these times where a Pope can reinstate a Bishop who preaches that the Holocaust never happened, it matters greatly.
It matters because Kate Winslet’’s fine acting and lush body obscure Hanna’’s immorality. It matters because this movie will win a lot of awards and more people will see it. And it matters because art matters, even if it didn”t move Hanna Schmitz beyond her easy tears,” Burton added.
Critic Roger Ebert, however, praised the film and argued that it was more than a ”Holocaust movie”.
Writing on his Chicago Sun-Times blog, Ebert said: “The Reader isn”t about the Holocaust. It’’s about not speaking when you know you should… Would you have defied the Nazis? Would I have? There were a lot of people who did. Most people did not. There is an old saying: There, but for the grace of God, go I.” (ANI)

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