by Barry Germansky
This is cinema of control. How can one explain the existence of past, present, and future Nazis? One cannot, at least not at the fundamental level of explanation. How can one bring such vile specimens to justice? One cannot, at least not in any comprehensive sense. So revenge, or something like it, will have to do. Artistic revenge is a kind of justice, one that that is certainly preferable to letting the monsters go free. And artistic revenge against Nazis should be pursued at every opportunity. The Nazis of Hitler’s time attempted to destroy all previous knowledge (as if knowledge ever existed concretely), and so they should have immediately paid the ultimate price (as if such a penalty could ever have been imposed). Fortunately, at the end of Spielberg and company’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), a handful of Nazis are punished in a sublimely satisfying way, a revenge that transcends virtually all categories of art, politics, justice, and philosophy. Nazism is forever branded as evil, and this message is conveyed in a way that can reach as many viewers as possible, regardless of their age, language, or education. Viewers can scream, but they can’t look away. If transcendence exists in art, this is where it’s at.