Friday, June 27, 2014

Thoughts on Europa Europa

The film “Europa, Europa” re-tells the incredible experience of a young Jewish boy throughout the Holocaust.  Personally, I thought it was a intriguing and original story.  In this blog post I want to loosely discuss the nature of the film, the boys struggle with identity and the brainwashing that occurred throughout the story all in respect to human rights.
The film loses some of its power by not showing what actually occurred in the holocaust, namely the mistreatment, torture and slaughter of eleven million people. Without this being made explicit the nature of the film takes on a much lighter sense of despair. What I'm saying is that the historical realities are weakly portrayed. Of course this may be intentional as we are dealing with a coming of age tale of a young man.
The circumcision plays a pivotal role as it is the key to his identity. It reminds the boy of whom he really is and that he can never change. Thus, he must play a dangerous game of hide and seek. Living among people that would murder you if they knew your true identity must be fear equivalent with torture. It is a basic human right to not have to live in fear of having your life taken on a daily basis.
There are various other human right violations portrayed in the film such as: Destruction of private property, theft, murder, forced resettlement, forced “brainwashing” and mistreatment on every level. The most interesting and relevant one shown in the film was brainwashing (by this I mean  to make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure [straight off google]). The boy goes through several such institutions such as the orphanage in Poland where he is forced to embody communist ideas. Later he is forced to go to an elite Hitlerjugend school where the Nazi ideology is attempted to be taught to him. (He attempts  to believe the Nazis but fails, were it not for his circumcision).
In the end the boy reestablishes his system of morals and ethics on Judaism and never looks back. However, in the film he mentions a portion of the communist ideology which dictates that “religion is opium for the people” and it made me question if religion is actually equivalent to brainwashing. I concluded that brainwashing is just a tool religions use.
This is where it gets confusing because one definative human right is to believe anything you want (i.e the right to a religion). But what if you have never had a choice to believe anything else? (by being born into a religion) Even if it is a way for a group to create model citizens, peace and order, is that not a violation of your mind? (never to get another perspective on spirituality) I have to say that I am not suggesting to get rid of religions as I lack knowledge on the matter so I will leave it at that. 
Overall the film for me was more entertaining than thought provoking as much of the time I was amazed at what was actually happening. Good film!

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