Over the years, filmmakers have adopted a wide variety of approaches to dramatizing the horrors of the Holocaust. This essay is an attempt to paint a comprehensive picture of the holocaust through the lens of cinema that tells individual, parallel stories.
If the whole world was a book, this period would be the most atypical chapter that’d change the course of events to be followed.
Is this what people experienced when World War 2 posed a threat to turn their homes into ash, and their bodies into mere flesh?
I don’t know.
Are the present stakes higher than WW2?
I don’t know.
The world, though, is simultaneously different and akin to what it was seven decades ago. While the existing adversary does menace to kill us, the imperil, however, feels far more internal than WW2.
Having not stepped outside the home for 2 weeks, working from home, living with my parents, I’ve been privileged enough during the lockdown. It’ll prevail for many more days to come, and the world still doesn’t seem like it’s coming in terms with the variation. It’s resisting. It’s a lazy Saturday evening as I write this. My Saturdays are customarily dedicated to watching movies. In spite of the increasing number of movies I’ve been seeing for the last couple of years on the big screen, the fascination for the experience only keeps sprouting.
On a completely unrelated note, I’ve seen 82 movies at the cinemas in 2018, and 70 in 2019, the majority of them alone. In 2020, though, I have been to the cinema a meager, half a dozen times. “I want cinema, not movies”, was my excuse. With half a dozen OTT subscriptions, watching films is academics, although I seldom slip in a fruitless movie, for the pointlessness of it.
However, a mere 2 years ago, movie-watching was an event. A weekly or fortnightly. This precise point, 2 years ago, it fell during the final days of engineering, and Avengers: Infinity War was opening a couple of days before the ‘one last examination’. Avengers: Infinity War was not just a movie, it was a symbol of liberation from college, hostel, and the unproductive-meaningless life associated with these facets. In the months leading up the film’s release, I’d tell myself, “Infinity War is gonna change your life. You’ll be done with college, move out of the hostel, and kick-start career with an energy equivalent to Hulk punching the hostel warden!”
IW released on the 27th of April, 2018. Although it was a gap day, I had a Professional Ethics in Engineering exam the day after. So, 28th April would mark the day I officially wave ‘good bye’ to engineering, and also watch the most anticipated movie of all time*.
*Endgame took that spot 149 minutes later.
Like I said, IW was an event. Booking tickets was onerous, attributing to the poor network reception in the hostel. Bookings failed multiple times. Yet, we persisted using different cards, until one of my friends stepped up, offering to pay from his mobile wallet. All hail, PayTM!
Extensive planning: Who would come? What time? How do we go?
Limitations: Grabbing tickets was the most arduous task of all.
Permission Procurement: Obtaining the hostel warden’s stamp on permission passes.
Transportation: We resented to the public bus.
Walking out of the eximination hall at 1 PM, IW was all I could think about. Waved goodbyes to people I knew I’d never see again. It didn’t matter. They didn’t matter.
Finally, at 4 PM, 5 of us, arrived at the sacred venue that would screen one of the greatest movies of all time, AGS cinemas (Navalur), the closest cinema to college. The screening would start at 4:30 PM.
As we all waited with bated breath, the door to the auditorium opened, followed by loud cheers from fellow fans! Entering an auditorium has never been more mesmerizing. The sense of excitement and joy I felt is still unequaled. I had started a new phase of my life, and this little film would mark the milestone. Our seats were in the frontmost row, those were the only we could get. There was energy wafting through the atmosphere.
I’m unsure if a 25-year old me would react similarly to the experience the 21-year old me did. Living at the center, it’s the job of the 23-year old present-me to answer. I’d go with a No.
The National anthem was followed by unremarkable, unnecessary commercials. For the matter of fact, taking the enthusiasm around IW into consideration, I would have termed The Godfather unremarkable. Everything was elevated, my life was gonna take the quantum-jump, I would start working in a couple of days, I would start earning money, I would be an independent individual, and Avengers: Infinity War would mark the beginning of this phase.
I still remeber the frenzy with the Marvel logo. The thunderous response from viewers to God of Thunder piercing storm-breaker through Thanos is still resonating in my years.
What followed that, was unpredictable, both the movie and life.
Unsettled and anxious are two befitting words to describe what I was going through as I walked out of the auditorium. I knew my life has changed, for good. Perhaps, I knew I’d watch Endgame alone, a year later. I did watch Endgame alone. Perhaps I knew what was coming, life. Perhaps, Infinity War was not the beginning, but an end.
I don’t know.
Ever since Infinity War, I’ve quit 3 jobs, found love for writing, and gained a ton of weight.
At the moment, we are all confined to homes, hopefully with our loved ones, befuddled about what the future holds.
We don’t know.
But, life never stops. Every day is a beginning. Every day is an ending. So do these days. Life comes in one pack, and the prevailing times, are only a tiny-teeny part of it. An unremarkable proportion. We will come out of this. We will meet our friends.
We will watch movies in packed auditoriums. We will cheer together.
We will watch many more infinity wars.
We are all together.
I know that, for sure.
The ‘5 of us’ 16 minutes before the screening.
After having our minds blown.
To the good old days, and the greater days to come.