representation, all these films "question the possibility of neutral bystanding" (p. 84), regardless of whether they operate in a documentary or fictional mode of cinema and thus relate, respectively, to scopophilic or epistophilic strategies of viewing. In the fourth chapter, Saxton questions how the trope of blindness, evoked by Lanzmann as his strategy for facing the horror, relates to questions of spectatorship, situating her discussion in works about witnessing by Derrida and Agamben. Agamben's "complete witness" (p. 98) points to the paradoxical nature of testimonial, whereas the existence of the Muselmann evokes the potentially debilitating consequences of witnessing atrocities. Contrasting Agamben's and Lanzmann's attitude to testimony, Saxton notes that the coexistence of such divergent approaches allows for complementing representations of the Holocaust. The section closes with an application of Lévinas's writing on the encounter with the other to Resnais's work, in particular to scenes where spectators directly face witnesses even while they stand in for "missed encounters" (p. 117). Saxton's insightful study redefines the debate over aesthetic limits and shows that cinema continues to grapple with the difficulty of finding means of representation that negotiate between formal constraints and ethical awareness. Ultimately, the book suggests that film will
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies – Purdue University Press
Published: Apr 9, 2010
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