Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Pass-Over this Film: Jewish Woman seduces a Nazi

Posted by Oyster on April 4, 2007

Black Book Movie Poster

Oyster kvetches about culturally-clueless or sinister PR, and is squeamish about a Holocaust film that depicts a Jewish girl who screws a Nazi.

Talk about a PR blunder.

You make a film about a Jewish woman’s survival in World War II, and you purposefully market it to local Jewish media outlets (ahem, ahem, Oy Bay) to come and see an exclusive screening in San Francisco (watch the trailer here). And what day does Larsen Associates, the SF-based publicist, pick to show it?

First night of Passover, when most Jews are attending a Seder.

So what was the point of marketing it to Jewish media outlets, again? Perhaps a way to dodge negative Jewish reaction to the film?

First off, a synopsis of “Black Book“:

The final years of the Second World War find the beautiful singer Rachel Stein (Carice Van Houten) taking refuge with the Tsjempkema family in rural Holland. Once a popular and wealthy entertainer, Rachel has been waiting out the war like many Jews in Europe, separated from her family and a moment away from being caught by the Gestapo. A stray bomb destroys her safe house and Rachel is left in the arms of Rob (Michel Huisman), a sympathetic young man, who promises to help her to safety. The next morning, Rob and Rachel arrive at the home of Mr. Smaal (Dolf de Vries) and his wife (Diana Dobbleman), a compassionate lawyer who has worked secretly to help Jews escape from Holland. Mr. Smaal arranges for Rachel to join her family and cross enemy lines into Allied territory, marking her name and rendezvous point in a little black leather notebook. But during the dangerous crossing, the boat is ambushed by German troops.

Sounds pretty typical for a Holocaust narration, no? But the movie isn’t described as containing, “graphic nudity, sexuality, full-frontal nudity” for nothing. As JewSchool’s EV notes, quoting a NY Times review:

Black Book Movie bj

After dyeing her hair a brassy blond, Rachel insinuates herself into the superdashing Nazi’s confidences and, soon enough, his bedroom. It takes just one glance at the top of her head with its creeping dark roots for Müntze to guess the truth. Grasping her naked breasts in her hands, Rachel pleads her case with Shakespearean gravitas, “Hath not a Jew, er, eyes?”

Yowza! In truth, Rachel — now called Ellis — asks of her breasts and then her hips, “Are these Jewish?” Seduced by the pertness of her argument or perhaps that of her physicality, attractively framed by black garters and stockings, Müntze answers her question silently but firmly.

This kinda makes me want to retch. And I’m not even referring to their obvious lifting of a line (the one from Shakespeare) from ‘Schindler’s List’. Albeit, I haven’t seen the film, so take my opinions with a grain of (kosher-for-passover) salt. But it seems like this movie approaches this subject in a cavalier manner. In fact, I could imagine that they conspired to release this controversial movie on the night of the first Passover Seder, in order to minimize any negative reaction from the Jewish community.

This might make for a provocative movie plot, but I think it does much dishonor to the hundreds (if not thousands) of Jewish women who were raped by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II if this reality is not mentioned in the film. If Paul Verhoeven could perhaps make a film depicting the Nazi’s development of whore-houses at death camps and near the front, where Jewish women were raped systematically (sometimes 8 times a day). But that won’t sell as much as a Jewish woman sleeping with a Nazi willingly. Its a most horrific element of the Shoah that is scarcely talked about, because it is so humiliating and vile.

If you have actually seen this movie, and believe that I haven’t fairly characterized the film, please comment below.

It’s almost been a year since I went on March of the Living, so this is a sensitive topic for me. More on that later. For now, know that Yom Ha’Shoah starts on April 14th at sundown.

So yes, definitely ‘pass-over’ this film.

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3 Responses to “Pass-Over this Film: Jewish Woman seduces a Nazi”

  1. welovetea said

    That film is the most ridiculous (and horrible) thing I’ve heard in a while on the topic of completely inappropriate movies. Bleh!!! What were they thinking?

  2. […] Pass-Over this Film: Jewish Woman seduces a Nazi […]

  3. Oyster said

    … perhaps that violating taboos will equal big-bucks? This movie is being marketed as a block-buster, not as a small art-house flick.

    I completely share your sentiments, Welovetea.

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