I had another reason for not watching the Eurovision interminable bore competition last night, not that I would have watched it anyway - that is because I was watching the third and final episode of Generation War, and more particularly, Martha Kearney’s post series debriefing.
I thought James Delingpole more or less nailed it in his review “Generation War does something very un-German - bottles it”.
Even the trailer required total suspension of disbelief, something various critics have pointed out, viz; the opening scene, set in 1941, in which the childhood friends are joined in the street by a bicycle-riding Viktor-the-Jew, and greeting each other with a cheery “Shalom”.
This was ‘preposterous’ of course, for many reasons, not least the Goebbels effect.
After the programme Martha Kearney was joined by:
“a panel including the programme makers, leading historians and cultural commentators, to examine the historical facts behind the series, the controversy it has caused and why now Germany is confronting the difficult issues of its past.”
In an unusual variation of BBC imbalance, three historian guests were pitted against the producer of the series, Benjamin Benedict, who I thought bore a remarkable resemblance to the actress playing his film’s heroine Greta. Same mouth.
He spoke fluent English, but there was a certain awkwardness to the way he continually repeated himself, “I just have to point that out” and “I have to disagree” and I suspect his ability to express himself was compromised by a slight language difficulty.
A major criticism of this drama was that it glamorised the principal characters, making them seem too much ‘like us’, which it undoubtedly did. Flattering shots and close-ups, which emphasised Friedhelm’s beautiful blue eyes, Greta’s fashionable retro wardrobe and the cast’s youthful attractiveness were designed to engage the audience. No doubt if it hadn’t done so, an audience acclimatised to a diet of fashion-images, artfully shot footage of beautiful people might have lost interest.
This ‘slickness of film’ made the characters incongruously sympathetic, despite the fact that they were depicted perpetrating atrocities, betrayals and cruelties. Benjamin Benedict’s defence - that the film didn’t fight shy of showing these things - missed the above point. Sort of ‘war-crime chic’ if you like.
His claim that merely showing atrocities perpetrated by “the Germans”, including the principal characters, was enough (to counteract any cinematic seduction) didn’t convince me at all.
It’s not all that surprising that the BBC granted this analytical critique the air-time it needed, because WW ll is the one area in which antisemitism / injustice to Jews is portrayed sympathetically, but I was glad that Martha Kearney’s ‘Fact and Fiction’ got to grips with some of the issues.
If only the BBC would allow equally honest discussions and analyses of the current antisemitism.