Friday, October 22, 2010

The Reader

I have been putting off watching The Reader even though I knew it had good ratings and I like Kate Winslet's work. The movie deals with a 36 year old woman (Hanna) who has an affair with a 15 year old boy (Michael) and I have serious problems with that. But since I have some time today and a mood for a more serious movie, I watched it.

By the time the movie ended, my head felt like bursting thinking about it but not knowing where to start. For one, it is what a reviewer called a "sentimental-erotic fantasy". But more than that, one of the message of the movie is that Nazi workers in the death camps were only carrying out their duties, and that include sending the Jews to their deaths. But does that not diminish the horror of blatant genocide? When the guards were on trial, Hanna who was one of them, asked in rhetoric, "What would you have done?" Moreover, why did they not unlock the door of the burning church that caused the death of 300 inmates? They retorted that they were carrying out their duties. In other words, they had to keep them in there for order. In other words, they had to die to keep order.

The final scene is also quite ridiculous. Quoting from the same reviewer, "Ralph Fiennes, as the older Michael, comes to New York to visit Ilana Mather, one of Hanna's surviving victims, bearing Hanna's savings in an old tea-can...This is because Hanna wanted Ilana to have her money, to do with "as she wishes". Surely any sentient human being, no matter how burdened they might feel by a perverse obligation to carry out Hanna's wishes, would see what a grotesque insult that is? Michael's failure to acknowledge it is one of the most agonising, toe-curling aspects of the film." And I most certainly agree.


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