As the Holocaust Memorial Day starts in Israel, I found in the weekend edition of Yediot Aharonot a list drawn by Yehuda Stav and Yehuda Nuriel of some the most important films dedicated to the Holocaust. It’s certainly a personal list, and other may have different preferences, I personally found some surprises but I thought that it’s interesting to bring it up and this is the appropriate moment to do so.

(video source UnitedOffensiveIII)

Elen Klimov’s ‘Idi i smotri’ (Come and See) from 1985 tops the list – they call it the greatest war film of all times and one of the best on a Holocaust theme.

Next comes Paul Mazurski’s adaptation from 1989 of Bashevis-Singers’ Enemies: A Love Story. It’s actually a post-Holocaust drama dealing happening in post-war America. I saw recently a stage adaptation at the Gesher theatre.

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Another splendid screen adaptation was inspired by Giorgio Bassani’s novel Il Giardino dei Finzi Contini brought to screen by Vittorio de Sica in 1970.

I have not seen Sidney’s Lumet’s The Pawnbroker staring Rod Steiger from 1964 – this was for me the first surprise on the list.

Interestingly enough the Yediot Aharonot critics did not include Roberto Benigni La vita e bella in their list (a miss in my opinion) but rather preferred to point to the lesser known first version of Jakob, der Lugner (Jacob, the Liar) of the East-German director Frank Beyer as the most original treatment of the Holocaust in the comic register. A second film staring Robin Williams followed in 1999.

The Shop on the Main Street made in 1965 by Jan Kadar and Elmar Klos is not only a small and moving human story, but also one of the best films of the short-lived new wave in the Czechoslovak cinema cut off by the Soviet invasion that crushed the Prague Spring.

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I did not know that in 1955, four years before making ‘Hiroshima, mon amour’ Alain Resnais had authored one of the first documentaries about the Holocaust – Nuit et Brouillard.

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Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) does not need any explanation – it is probably the most famous and most viewed film about the Holocaust and the director’s best in my opinion.

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And yet the highest on my personal list is Polansky’s The Pianist. Like Spielberg, Polansky put the best of his talent in the service of making this masterpiece dated 2002.

(video source sweetshark3)

Claude Lanzman’s Shoah could not be missing from the list. It’s a huge, overwhelming documentary which in 1985 succeeded to catch on film many of the stories of the survivors.

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The newspaper list ends with another film I knew nothing about previously Le Chagrin et la Pitie – a documentary by French director Marcel Ophuls who in 1969 smashed some myths presenting the extent of the collaboration of the French in the Final Solution.

(video source giuliodeluise)

I would like to add to the list one film made in France in 1998 by Romanian-born director Radu Mihalileanu – Train de vie. It is not a perfect film, but it has a strong and original idea.