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At this late stage of its development as a sub-genre of modern cinema, the “Holocaust movie” has become an increasingly dicey endeavor for both filmmakers and their audience. For roughly the past fifty years or so, stories set in a context of the Third Reich’s ascendancy have been a reliable go-to subject for writers pondering dark and disturbing themes that bring to the surface the more troubling tendencies of human nature. Not just the cruelty of the perpetrators of the genocide, but also the cynical indifference of “respectable citizen” bystanders and the crazed desperation of prisoners who make anguished decisions that keep themselves alive at the cost of inflicting suffering on someone else – as well as the valor of those who sacrifice their own self-interest in order to protect the innocent and vulnerable among them.

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