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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday, 10 December: Grim viewing, compelling reading

I was urged by friends to view the German movie, The Counterfeiters, directed by Stefan Ruzowitsky and winner of Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2008. Somehow I had missed reviews about this movie at the time of the Academy Awards. I had a vague and incorrect idea of a Mob movie set in glamourous Monte Carlo or Cannes. Just as well I was uninformed as I don't know if I would have had the stomach for it otherwise. The movie tells the story of a motley bunch of Jewish prisoners in the dreaded Sachsenhausen concentration camp during WWII. The men, some with and others without any printing expertise, led by a wily professional forger, 'Sally' Sorowitsch, were spared the horrors in order to forge pound and dollar banknotes to flood the Allied economies and destabilize them. Grim viewing, indeed.

But amidst the camp's miserable greyness, the bullying cruelty of the guards and SS overlords, the anguished guilt of the forgers who are given special treatment while their family and fellow-prisoners were randomly shot, beaten and starved, emerge those small acts of heroism: gestures of kindness, a whispered word or a telling look that meant another's survival. They made the viewing worthwhile.

In similar vein, this week I read 'The Reader' by Bernhard Schlink. The novel is restrained, understated and tragic. It deals with the experiences of a young man in post-war Germany, who is confronted in a SS war crimes trials with the brutal past of a woman with whom he was once in love. So doing he is also faced with his country's past and the questions that no one has ever been able to answer satisfactorily (at least, in my view).

Hardly Christmas entertainment but compelling viewing, compelling reading.

On a happier note, today is the first day of my annual leave! Hooray! And I am going to blog, blog, blog so keep your ears peeled. Yes, that's me standing at the front gate ringing the bell for a quick visit to your world!


Smilingsal said...

I hear your bell, so come on in! I think I'll skip the movie, though. I don't do well with films like this; they give me nightmares. Yes, I'm a wimp.

Claire said...

I have missed you... enjoy your leave. Mine starts tomorrow : )

willow said...

Is this film still at the theaters or is it on DVD by now? I know WT will want to see this one.

So glad your vacation is starting! Yay! I will look forward to seeing more of your lovliness around the bloggyhood. :^)

Susan said...

I am going to put those on my "to watch" and "to read" lists ... I like good, meaty books/films to delve into. I'm glad I found your blog! I'd love to come visit your thatched house :)

Poetikat and the Hyggecats said...

Eleanor, This is a movie I have been anxious to see. We typically watch the Best Foreign films (and own a number of them). Have you seen "The Lives of Others"? It's amazing. Another film you should look out for is "Train of Life". Amazingly, it takes a very unusual tack with the Holocaust film from the Jewish perspective. It is very good.

"hyggedigter" is from the Danish words. Loosely translated, it is "cozy poet", but I like "passionate" as well.


Poetikat and the Hyggecats said...

Your dogs are adorable!



Tracy said...

Hi, Eleanor! Glad to be able to catch up with you here at last...bust days--LOL! Rather heavy viewing and reading you've been doing of late...but very good too! Not see the film though, so adding it to my list. Thanks for the recommendation. Enjoy your break!! We're off Monday for our Christmas trip. Thanks so much for visiting me--loved seeing your comment! :o) Hubby's parents will be looking after our kitty Charlie while we're away-so he'll be in good hands. Happy Days, my friend. Looking forward to visiting you here in the New Year ((HUGS))

Neabear said...

Looking forward to all those posts you will be doing. Have a good time during your annual leave.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Edward and I are glad you're going to be out and about in blogland! We love it when you come to call.

I've been reading about The Reader - the movie version that is. I thought I would most likely read the book first. Books always seem the better choice.

celestina marie said...

Hi Eleanor, so nice to meet you and thank you for your visit to my blog and kind comment.
Your reviews sound interesting and I will take note for those to look for.
Gal and Tristram are adorable. My Miss Beazy loves to swim like Gal.

I have enjoyed my visit to your lovely blog and I hope you enjoy your time off.
Best wishes for a Merry Christmas,
Celestina marie

babooshka said...

Thanks for pointing me in the direction a film I may have overlooked.