Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027
Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959
January 10, 2002
Review of “Uprising”
When Steven Spielberg’s movie “Schindler’s List” was released in 1993, a graphic depiction of Jews working as slave labor for the Nazi war machine en route to their final stop at Hitler’s death camps, and Osker Schindler, the German factory owner who saved them, I refused to see it.
Having already seen my share of live film footage taken in Poland during the war years, seeing photographs of living human skeletons in German concentration camps waiting to die from disease, starvation or a Nazi’s bullet, there was no point, I reasoned, in having anything to do with supporting Hollywood’s efforts at turning one of Jewish history’s darkest moments into entertainment for the masses.
For no purpose other than to amass wealth through feeding the public’s insatiable craving for horror, gore, sex and the momentary, but rare, moral epiphany, the entertainment industry knows no bounds in its quest to profit from the unspeakable.
The Nazi holocaust, which plucked the life from thirteen million human beings, ranks at the top of unspeakable events in the last millennium.
The Jewish ancestry of Steven Spielberg did little, in my mind, to deodorize what he doubtless considers pure and altruistic motives in bringing a story of agony and death to the motion picture screen.
What sane person would create a multimillion dollar film, whether it's fact or fiction, to dramatize the rape, beating and murder of a family member? Jews are an extended family, albeit a very diverse one. Steven Spielberg is a Jew. Was this the work of a person with a soul or the drone of a currency printing press, I continue to wonder. Sorry, but I can't buy into the argument that Jews must be made aware, over and over again with each new season at the theater box office, of what happened sixty years ago to prevent it from happening again. Enough has been made of the Holocaust in literature and documentaries before Schindler's List was even story boarded. It is well known knowledge to anyone who cares to learn that many Gentiles, like Osker Schindler, risked their lives to hide Jews from deportation to internment and death camps. We call these brave men and women the Righteous People of the Nations (tzaddikai u'mos ha'olom, in classical Hebrew).
Spielberg merely dressed the great white shark of “Jaws” in a Nazi SS uniform and proceeded to make more money with “Schindler’s List”. The purchase price of the theater ticket that I never bought didn’t break him. Others have given me a scene by scene run down of it, though, so it's as if I sat through multiple viewings. The plot and content, such as they are, have become intimately familiar to me since 1993.
On November 2, 2001, JPFO sent out an Alert—“NBC to Air the Story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” (http://jpfo.org/alert20011102.htm).
I don't have a television because I adamantly refuse to permit the intrusion of an open sewer pipe into my home. So other JPFO principals promised to give me their feedback about this made- for-TV movie. Hollywood could doll it up with tinsel and flocking to its customary tasteless standards, but the main concern was that it would be factual. That meant not trivializing the fundamental point made by the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto resistance that a few firearms in the hands of semi-skilled yet dedicated warriors could make a life saving difference against a vastly superior enemy intent on their annihilation.
(But, one may ask, the Warsaw ghetto resistance fighters ultimately lost the campaign. What did they accomplish? This will be answered in a forthcoming essay on our Ask the Rabbi page so watch for it! [NOTE: this feature has been discontinued])
Instead, a purchased VHS copy of “Uprising” was sent by JPFO for me to personally view with assurances that it wouldn’t offend my sensibilities. An obliging neighbor allowed me the use of a chair, TV and VCR to see something I didn’t really want to see for a continuous three hours.
The only documentation we have of the Warsaw ghetto uprising reads like a sun bleached history text, devoid of the emotions, tears and anguish that only the hunted can experience. In that respect, the producer, director and character actors of “Uprising” succeeded wildly in drawing the viewer into the minds and determined-to-survive psyche of 23-year-old Mordecai Anielewicz and his band of resistance fighters in April and May, 1943.
In one memorable scene Anielewicz manages the distribution of their limited small arms ammunition cache with the admonition, “One cartridge, one German!” Whether that line was really uttered or not, it causes a surge of "Yeah, get 'em!" adrenaline.
Seven hundred and fifty Jewish fighters held off German army forces for nearly one month. Of the more than 56,000 Jews captured, about 7,000 were shot. The rest were deported to killing centers or concentration camps.
Watching a staged reenactment of Jewish men, women and children being herded at gun point onto fetid train cars taking them to the Treblinka death camp for extermination, knowing that it’s all actors, extras and studio props, somehow doesn’t detract from the viewer’s sinking feeling.
Not being a seasoned moviegoer, it was hard not to become enraged watching the scripted animal brutality of a Nazi soldier actor butt stroking an elderly Jewish man to death with a rifle stock, splattering with blood the Jew next to him as he, too, contemplates his last few seconds just at the moment when a Jewish resistance fighter darts from behind a corner and shoots the Nazi dead with a smuggled pistol. Did that really happen? No one knows, but it could have.
Depression to cheering elation and capped with a sobering finale— Hollywood knows all the right buttons to push.
The Jewish neighbor, in whose apartment I watched the movie, stood up at its conclusion and announced, “That’s why every Jew should own a gun!” Throwing him a smirk, I asked, then, why he didn’t own one. “One of these days, one of these days...!”, was his muffled retort.
Here’s hoping that day comes before he needs it.
Without trying to sound like a present day Gene Siskel, “Uprising” gets four out of five stars from JPFO’s rabbinical (and first time) film critic.
It’s really hard to believe how something so pro-gun ever slipped by the scrutiny of NBC’s rabidly anti-gun board of directors.
This movie can be purchased on-line at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005QAQI/jewsforthepreser/ for the DVD or
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005QATI/jewsforthepreser/ for the VHS tape.
Rabbi R. Mermelstein
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