Cinemas are slowly coming back, but if you’re still not sure you want to choose between popcorn munching versus mask-wearing—there’s nothing wrong with cosying up and staying home.
Okay. We’re starting with 1917, because if you haven’t watched it already, sit back down and cancel your plans for tonight. Directed by Sam Mendes, this is a film based on the harrowing true story of two British soldiers who, during World War I, embark on a terrifying mission through enemy territory to deliver a vital message to their fellow comrades on the other side.
Shot on multiple formats including IMAX, 70mm, digital, Christopher Nolan produced and directed the incredible tale of Dunkirk, the story of the evacuation of the Allied troops that took place during World War II. The movie portrays this evacuation from three perspectives: land, sea, and air. It follows the heart-wrenching bravery of soldiers that faced horrors with heroism.
This is the true story of Desmond Thomas Doss, played by actor Andrew Garfield, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. Doss saved 75 soldiers in the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles in World War II, without using or carrying a weapon. This is a movie that will make you question all preconceived notions of what it means to fight for what you believe in.
A tale of love above all else, based on the book written by Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth shows how war was idealised by coming of age boys and girls that volunteered to fight in the first World War, and reminds us of what truly matters when faced with hard distance and change.
An adaptation of James Jones’ autobiographical 1962 novel, directed by Terrance Malick, The Thin Red Line is a cinematographic masterpiece. A group of soldiers face an unlikely battle at the Guadalcanal during World War II, where they fight all odds in order to survive. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and is a must watch.
Based on the memoir of a former Sierra Leonean child soldier played by Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation depicts the rage of an African civil war that tears a family apart, it is a bleak vision of modern warfare. This film is utterly sobering, awakening and uncompromising. Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List is at the top of many film buffs must watch lists. It is the true story of a German industrialist who saved more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. Schindler’s List is often listed among the greatest films ever made.
Starring Nicholas Hoult, Sand Castle follows a young soldier’s introduction to war, as he enters the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Based on the true experience of the film’s writer, Chris Roessner.
Directed by Saul Dibb and based on the best-selling book by Irene Nemirovsky set during the German occupation of France in the 1940s, Suite Française tells the story of finding love in unlikely places, and how it is more powerful than law. Get your tissues ready.
Based on the autobiographical book The Pianist (1946), which is a Holocaust memoir by the Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, and how he survived the German occupation of Warsaw and the Holocaust. A truly magnificent film in all ways, and a must watch.
The commemoration of and education around the issue of the Holocaust becomes an increasingly complicated task. As survivors die out and the attention span of the younger generation shrinks at a dazzling pace, it gets challenging to keep the stories from that time relevant and relatable. In an attempt to tackle this problem, Israeli high-tech entrepreneur Mati Kochavi and his daughter, Maya, opened an Instagram account in which they sought to document the last months of Eva Hayman, a 13-year old Hungarian Jew who was murdered in the Holocaust. The project, titled Eva’s Story, has so far been watched by millions of viewers and generated a worldwide social-media sensation, while being the subject of both laudatory endorsements and harsh criticism.
The creation of the fake Instagram account had cost the Israeli entrepreneur nearly $5 million to make, and involved roughly 400 actors, extras, and crew members. Shot in Lviv, Ukraine, the production sought to re-create the world of Eva Hayman as it is described in her personal journal, which commences on February 13, 1944 (her 13th birthday) and ends on May 30 of that year, just days before her deportation to Auschwitz. Unlike your typical Holocaust movie, however, this project was filmed exclusively through the lens of Eva’s Instagram story, and is replete, in some sections, with hashtags, GIFs, and emojis.
Following an elaborate media campaign and a teaser that was uploaded to the fake account last week, Eva’s Story was finally released in 70 increments on Wednesday afternoon, right at the onset of Israel’s annual Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. Eva’s last Instagram story, which captures the moment in which she was shoved on a cattle train that would take her to her death, was uploaded to the account on Thursday morning—as sirens were heard throughout Israel, calling for a moment of mourning.
By the time Eva’s last story aired, the account had garnered nearly one million followers and its content had been watched by over 100 million people across the globe. Roughly 200 million Google searches of Eva’s Story were registered on Google and the project had been covered by media outlets in over 50 countries. Among the enthused endorsers of Eva’s Insta account were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the White House, who shared it on its official IG account.
Yet alongside the global hype surrounding the project were countless critiques by individuals who found this initiative offensive and disrespectful. In an Op-Ed for Haaretz newspaper, civics-teacher and musician Yuval Mendelson wrote, “First of all, we are talking about a display of bad taste. Second, and much worse, there will be consequences. The path from ‘Eva’s Story’ to selfie-taking at the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau is short and steep, and in the end all those tut-tutters and head shakers will join in telling us about the lost and disconnected youth, devoid of values and shameless.”
Mendelson’s opinion of the project was echoed by many others who sensed Eva’s Story encouraged the ‘cheapening’ of the Holocaust, and who believed that depicting her dreadful experience through an Instagram story is simply inappropriate.
The creators of the project, however, maintain an entirely different position, believing that social media can be used as a tool to keep the conversation around the Holocaust alive among the young generation. In an interview for The New York Times, Mati Kochavi stated, “Why disrespectful? It’s the way people communicate. I have no doubt in my mind that young people around the world want to have serious content and be connected in the right way.” In a subsequent interview for Ynet, Kochavi added that, “This is the way to make the Holocaust accessible to the young crowd. Only 2.7 percent of the total discussion about the Holocaust around the world today is initiated by the younger generation, which is a significant decline in comparison to previous years.”
Eva’s Story certainly raises serious questions not only about how to handle the subject of the Holocaust in the post-millennial age and keep future generations aware and engaged, but about how to utilise the various platforms of social media to document and discuss world events and tragedies without trivialising them. It seems that the project’s creators would have dodged some of the criticism launched against them had they not embarked on a glitzy campaign, which included the hanging of massive banners across Israel, depicting a girl’s hand holding an iPhone over barbed-wire against the background of the trademark purple-and-yellow Insta shades. It is clear why many across Israel felt that combining the most populistic and commercial aspects of Instagram with an issue like the Holocaust is both disrespectful and offensive.
One thing is certain, though: social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and Kochavi is right when he says that “This is where the kids are.” It only makes sense then to utilise platforms such as Instagram in order to expose young people to serious content and keep them informed about both historical and current world affairs. It is equally as necessary, however, to ensure that topics such as the Holocaust are handled with extra sensitivity and respect, so as not to, inadvertently, depict them as yet another sensationalist fad.