Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (2004)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This is the riveting story of the American film industry's complex and fascinating response to the horrors of Nazi Germany. Utilizing carefully selected excerpts from extraordinary and in some cases rarely-seen films, and told through the first-hand accounts of the directors, actors, writers, and producers, the film covers some of Hollywood's most important movies, including "The Mortal Storm," "The Great Dictator," "The Search," "The Diary of Anne Frank," "The Pawnbroker," "Judgment at Nuremberg," "Sophie's Choice," and "Schindler's List." The film takes us from the American ambivalence and denial during the heyday of Nazism, through the silence of the post-war years, and into the present day. It asks hard questions: about the uneasy relationship between American popular culture and the Holocaust, about the responsibility of filmmakers in their portrayal of history, and about the power of film itself to affect the way we look at ourselves.
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Television
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Critic Reviews for Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (6)

Imaginary Witness is powerful and complex, and few will manage to make it through to the end without gasping, weeping or covering their eyes.

Full Review… | February 7, 2008
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Anker's film is an important one, shining a light on that red stain and how we saw it filtered through Hollywood's lens.

Full Review… | January 18, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Daniel Anker's film faults Hollywood both for ignoring the Holocaust during the war years and for trivializing it later. It's a mixed message that coheres largely thanks to Anker's archival spadework and his luck in securing interviews.

Full Review… | January 4, 2008
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Imaginary Witness works fine as an illustrated history, but the material could've supported something more probing and provocative.

December 26, 2007
AV Club
Top Critic

Anker's excavated some remarkable stuff here...

December 18, 2007
Village Voice
Top Critic

This solid, clip-heavy history of Hollywood's narrative efforts pushes past sobriety to arrive at some tough ideas.

December 12, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust


I study the role music plays in our lives, so it was interesting to see the ties between Hollywood, the US, and the Holocaust.

Stacy Mann
Stacy Mann

This is an excellent documentary, which depicts the Holocaust through Hollywood movies and television. Especially interesting is Hollywood's anemic reaction to Hitler's rise to power during the 30s, which shows how afraid Hollywood moguls were to offend Nazi Germany before America's entry into the war. The film clips of the Holocaust shown through movies is brilliantly depicted, and the commentary from historians and movie makers explains the evolution of how Hollywood movies became more honest and open in showing this horrible chapter in human history. Very interesting film.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


An in-depth look at how Hollywood has portrayed the Holocaust, from Confessions of a Nazi Spy and Black Legion to Schindler's List and The Pianist. Insightful and revealing.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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