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Why We Must Laugh Essay

1490 words - 6 pages

There are Holocaust films that are unexpectedly much cheerier than most Holocaust films. There is a never ending comedic feel in Life Is Beautiful that the main character offers with his entertaining and spontaneous personality. His creativity helped keep the story light when it was in reality a grueling subject. The success of Benigni's Life Is Beautiful seemed to mark the beginning of a new trend: holocaust comedies. The comedic aspect of Life is Beautiful brought out a different perspective of the holocaust that could make interpreting the holocaust in a less biased form. It was followed by Jacob the Liar with Robin Williams, the remake of the old GDR Cinema classic about the owner of a small shop in the ghetto who pretends to have a hidden radio-receiver and regularly tells his terrified fellows uplifting news about approaching German defeat that he allegedly learned from the radio. Throughout segments of the film, humor is carefully interwoven into dialogue and scenes to lighten the dark backdrop that the Holocaust stages for the film viewers, similar to the film Life is Beautiful. By using an actor widely known for his talent for humor, it is success to portray a less somber view of Holocaust events than what are typically documented. In the context of a storyline that focuses upon imparting how a ray of hope in darkness can make all the difference in the lives of those for whom the ray shines on, the use of humor would certainly work. Significantly, both films are centralized on a lie that allows the vulnerable Jews to survive the ordeal. Holocaust comedies are able to create a sense of balance in emotions that help the viewing audience see how laughter in a grave matter can benefit their understanding of the subject.
Obviously the Holocaust is no laughing matter. Not only an immense and terrible tragedy, the Holocaust is also an extremely well-recorded tragedy. But the Holocaust itself is generally polished over in such works of entertainment, either given a short-lived mention or existing solely in the background as a present threat. After all, it’s just too serious. Nevertheless, several filmmakers have attempted to find humor in this humorless event. Oftentimes, one finds moments of black humor creeping around the boundaries of otherwise somber films. Nonetheless, a subject that is too serious and morbid usually forces people to feel horrified and and depressed. Most Holocaust interpretations show the ugly truth of the matter which creates a bias among the people. In Steven Spielberg’s Schindler's List, we witness the overly sadistic and merciless character of Amon Goeth, who strikes fear into the jews as well as the viewers. The sadistic character makes the viewers think that all Nazi Germans were evil and ruthless when in fact, there was never anyone in the holocaust as unmerciful as Goeth. When incorporating comedy into holocaust films, filmmakers can show the audience a different side to a horrific event, and the audience can...

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