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Cinema's AlchemistThe Films of Péter Forgács$
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Bill Nichols and Michael Renov

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816648740

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816648740.001.0001

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Historical Discourses of the Unimaginable

Historical Discourses of the Unimaginable

The Maelstrom

(p.85) 5 Historical Discourses of the Unimaginable
Cinema's Alchemist

Michael Renov

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter focuses on the film The Maelstrom and the Holocaust film as documentary genre. It discusses the source of the Holocaust’s fascination for Jewish filmmakers. Péter Forgács’s The Maelstrom, a film about a Dutch Jewish family destroyed in the Shoah, actively deconstructs the institutionalized divide between the real and the imaginable by producing historical discourses of the unimaginable. Drawing his visual sources from the depths of the world’s archives and from recovered amateur footage, Forgács affords the viewer access to worlds unknown and unanticipated. The chapter also argues that The Maelstrom functions both as a self-critical act of historical interpretation and as a formally innovative work of art, the affective power of which engender both empathy and understanding.

Keywords:   The Maelstrom, Holocaust film, documentary genre, Jewish filmmakers, Péter Forgács, archive, amateur footage

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