Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"Fateless" - A Boy and The Holocaust

Writing last week about Irma Grese, notorious for her horrendous cruelty in Nazi concentration camps, led to a bit of synchronicity. On Saturday we visited a couple of antique/junk shops across the border in Texas. I noticed, in one of them, among a pile of old VCR tapes a single DVD. I'd never heard of the movie "Fateless", but from the synopsis on the cover I decided that it was well worth the $2 asking price.

"Fateless" is a movie based on a Nobel Prize winning novel of the same name by Hungarian author Imre Kertesz. The harrowing but strangely beautiful story of a Jewish boy, György (George) Köves, aged 14 (played by Marcell Nagy),
arrested in Budapest in June 1944 and transported to Nazi concentration camps, Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz. He remained imprisoned, doing forced labour, enduring unimaginable hardships, starvation and abuse, until American forces liberated him and his companions after the end of the war. He escaped death only with the help of political prisoners who rescued him from a pile of corpses about to be disposed of. American liberation followed soon after, as he recovered, hidden in a hospital provided exclusively for political prisoners.

The movie, screenplay by Imre Kertesz, is said to be more closely autobiographical than the novel. There's a report of an interview with the author by Stefan Theil, at Holocaust Survivors' Network - "The Last Word: Voice of Conscience".

Imre Kertesz was born in Budapest, Hungary on 9 November 1929 (no time of birth known).

Sun, Mercury and Mars are in Scorpio, Moon in Aquarius (whatever time of birth). Scorpio and Aquarius are both Fixed signs, and probably endowed the author, as a boy, with a strong will and stubborn determination to survive. His Scorpio Sun trines Pluto (planet of death and transformation) in Cancer - I wonder whether, had that trine been a square or other challenging aspect, if he would have survived his ordeals to tell his story? Neptune (creativity) sextiles Mercury(communication) - a hint of the career in writing he would take up in later life. Saturn lay in late Sagittarius at his birth, and in June 1944, when he was arrested, Saturn in transit lay exactly opposite his natal Saturn - a dramatic Saturn half-return.

From "The Holocaust, From a Teenage View" by Alan Riding for the New York Times in 2006:

In a scene not included in the novel, an American army officer, himself Jewish, encourages Gyuri to migrate to the United States, but the boy wants to return to his family in Budapest.......... But home was not as Mr. Kertész - or Gyuri - imagined it: his father had died in Mathausen, a Nazi labor camp in Austria; his stepmother had remarried; his home had been occupied by another family. Even here, Gyuri cannot grasp that more than half a million Hungarian Jews have died in the Holocaust; when asked about the atrocities in the camps, he remembers his happiness.
"Yes," the novel concludes in Gyuri's voice, "the next time I am asked, I ought to speak about that, the happiness of the concentration camps. If indeed I am asked. And provided I myself don't forget.

If "happiness" in such circumstances still shocks, that was the author's intention. "I took the word out of its everyday context and made it seem scandalous," Mr. Kertész said. "It was an act of rebellion against the role of victim which society had assigned me. It was a way of assuming responsibility, of defining my own fate."

That last comment, about defining his own fate, I see as a reflection of his Moon in Aquarius.

The film's cinematographer/director, Lajos Koltai comments:

"What was most exciting is that many teenagers went to see the movie in Hungary," Mr. Koltai said of the film, the first feature he has directed. "They fall in love with the boy and realize that his fate could be their fate: just taken off a bus. It could happen to anyone anywhere in the world today."

A chilling thought indeed.


R J Adams said...

Chilling, indeed, considering the times we are living in.

Wisewebwoman said...

And I ask myself the question, T:
Could it happen here?

Twilight said...

RJ & WWW ~~~

I think that the way things are currently, almost anything could happen, hard as it is to be reminded!