To know or not to know? Common themes in Ida and The Flat

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The Israeli documentary The Flat (2011) by Arnon Goldfinger, and the Polish feature Ida (2013) by Pawel Pawlikowski, are discussed, first exploring the main themes of each one of them, and subsequently pointing to common threads. The emphasis is on the massive defensive processes—especially dissociation, repression and denial—which color and distort the memory of traumatic experience by victims, by perpetrators and by their descendants. At the center of each film we find a Jewish family traumatized by the brutal murder of Jews during World War II. In The Flat the family lived in Germany, and two of its members who survived by moving to Israel before the war—the director’s grandparents—apparently cannot integrate the memory of their murdered relatives, avoid talking about them with their children and grandchildren, and secretly cultivate a friendship with a Nazi official and his wife, a friendship founded on denial. A similar denial characterizes the seemingly enlightened daughter of the German couple. In Ida the family lived in occupied Poland, most of its members were murdered by the Polish peasants who initially gave them shelter, and the woman’s sister avoids emotional contact with the horror by becoming active in the new communist regime, until her niece-who grew up in a convent with no awareness of her identity and tragic background—knocks one day on her door. Both films culminate in a journey in which the painful historical truth is fully uncovered.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCinematic Reflections on the Legacy of the Holocaust
Subtitle of host publicationPsychoanalytic Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781351392532
ISBN (Print)9781138306967
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 selection and editorial matter, Diana Diamond and Bruce Sklarew; individual chapters, the contributors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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