Watching Her Read

Regardless of whether you’re familiar with the history of the Western world or not, the very words “Nazi,” “Third Reich,” and “Hitler” fill one with instinctive disgust.

Yet, the other day, when I saw the “The Reader” (2008), the movie adaptation of the German novel of the same name by Bernhard Schlink—the first German fiction to top the New York Times bestseller list—I couldn’t help feel a surge of remorse for its heroine, Hanna Schmidt (Kate Winslet) a former SS guard at an Auschwitz satellite camp.

Was that because of Winslet’s portrayal of Schmidt’s life—which won her the Oscar—or Schlink’s portrayal of Schmidt’s life, I’m less than certain.


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