Publication Date

January 2001


The Journal of Visual Arts Practice is published by Taylor & Francis,


This article discusses Richard Kearney's proposed resolution to the recent debate between Claude Lanzmann, director of Shoah, and Steven Spielberg, concerning mimesis and Schindler's List. Kearney advocates finding an Aristotelian mean between the uniqueness and communicability in stories involving the Shoah, stressing the importance of empathy in the narrative process. This article agrees with Kearney, but stresses the difficulties in finding such a mean, using such writers on the Holocaust as Jean Amery, Elie Wiesel, and Lawrence Langer as evidence. This paper especially deals with pop-culture movies that privilege empathy at the cost of obscuring the horror of the events, and analyses Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful as two such movies. The essential thrust of this paper is the discussion of the precariousness of such an Aristotelian mean, of bearing in mind the micro-narratives while still preserving the magnitude of the horror of the events of the Shoah.