Bernadette Scasna presents at the International Conference of Students in Doctoral Programmes 2022 “IMAGINATION – INSPIRATION – INTERPRETATION” Charles University, Prague on 9th of November (15.00-15.30). The presentation “Artistic Narratives of the Holocaust: The Public’s Interpretation of the Film The Auschwitz Report” is part of the panel Art History III.
The efforts to create new representations of the Holocaust through various art forms such as films or literature are still ongoing. One of their tasks is to bring history closer to the newer generations and help them create an image of the past events. The case study that caught my interest is the recently released film called The Auschwitz Report (2020) directed by Peter Bebjak. The film is a co-production of Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Germany and it was screened not only in Europe but also reached the viewers all over the world. It brought the not-so-well-known story of two Slovak Jews who managed to escape the Holocaust to the wider public. The film helps the viewers understand the story and the characters’ feelings through many interesting artistic choices. Are these, however, enough to convey the message to the audience, or is more context needed? In this contribution I want to present my research of the film’s interpretation and reception. I focus on these two aspects in relation to the film because it is important to learn how such works shape the public’s understanding of the past. By looking closer into the reception it will be more clear what are some of the film’s attributes that are more successful (or less in favour of the audience) at representing the past and helping the audience create “prosthethic memories” (concept coined by Alison Landsberg) of a great and dark chapter of humanity’s history, the Holocaust.