Five Holocaust Movies Better Than The Reader

I thought The Reader was pretty good, and Kate Winslet was certainly terrific in it, but a best picture nominee??? I could think of at least ten movies from last year that are more deserving (see any listed here). Alas, the fact that it is at least partially about the Holocaust lends The Reader the sort of gravitas that Academy voters love. But there are much better Holocaust-themed films out there than The Reader, and just in case you hadn’t seen any of them, here are five of the best:

Schindler’s List: The granddaddy of all Holocaust films. Steven Spielberg’s passionate, timeless epic is not easy to watch, but it is a master class of classic narrative filmmaking.

The Pianist: Adrien Brody’s performance as pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman won him the Academy Award, and rightfully so. It’s a phenomenal performance, and a stunning film. The music scenes—especially near the end—are exactly what catharsis should be in cinema.

Life is Beautiful:
This film’s mix of joy, tragedy, laughter, and tears—featuring perhaps cinema’s only madcap comedic performance in a Holocaust film—makes for a truly compelling viewing experience.

The Counterfeiters: If you haven’t seen this 2007 film yet, rent it! The true story of a band of Jewish counterfeiters who stayed alive by lending their services to the Nazis (which, ironically, kept them operational and able to kill more Jews) is way more provocative than The Reader could ever try to be.

Night and Fog: This 1955 French documentary from director Alain Resnais (before he became a leader of the French New Wave) is supremely evocative and features some of the most devastating early documentary footage (e.g. bulldozed piles of bodies) of the horrors of the concentration camps.

8 responses to “Five Holocaust Movies Better Than The Reader

  1. Stanley Kubrick thought there were no good films about the Holocaust. When Frederic Raphael asked him whether he thought Schindler’s List was any good, Kubrick said, ‘You think Schindler’s List was about the Holocaust? Schindler’s List was about six thousand Jews that lived. The Holocaust was about six million Jews that died.’

  2. Here is a Holocaust film I’d like to see:

  3. Just watched Night and Fog in lecture today. It’s truly a towering, devastating work.

  4. If you haven’t seen The Pawnbroker (1965), do. It takes place years after the Holocaust, but I still count it as among the greatest Holocaust films (It’s also among the most depressing of any genre, so be warned if you haven’t already seen it).

  5. I’ve never seen Schindler’s List, and I sometimes feel like this is a moral failure on my part. I have, however, seen The Last Butterfly, and I highly recommend it (in the only way it’s possible to recommend Holocaust films, which is to say, you will never be in the mood for it, but you should watch it anyway). I sort of associate it with Life is Beautiful – similar feel.

  6. Schindler’s List is one of the worst holocaust films. It’s a cheesy excercise in myth perpetuation.

  7. ‘Sophie Scholl: The Final Days’ is another excellent WWII movie, and one which is of particular interest to Christians. I suppose one could argue it’s not technically a Holocaust film (Sophie is imprisoned for being in the resistance, not for being Jewish), but it deals with those same dark issues. Here’s a short review of the film:

  8. Escape from sobibor Its played like it realy happened you feel like your in lt

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