Holocaust Imagery in Recent Films

There was a huge mound of discarded children's shoes in Pan's Labyrinth and another of peasants' shoes early in Pirates of the Caribbean 3. Mountains made of the shoes of the slaughtered (whether by a horrible Freudian monster or a monstrous government) is an easy invocation of horror and an obvious allusion to the Holocaust (one of the easiest horrors to summon for our twenty-first-century western consciousness).

These two films were so very different in focus and tone, yet both use this stock Holocaust image to magnify/simplify our awareness of Evil in the deaths of "chosen" people: children--the ultimate innocents--in Pan's Labyrinth and those who resist the government in Pirates of the Caribbean 3.

Pan's Labyrinth arguably earns its usage: the Holocaust is part of our consciousness and unconcious fears as viewers, plus the filmmaker wishes to draw connections between the Spanish fascists of the Spanish Civil War era and the Nazis. By comparison. Pirates 3 is all about shortcuts that maximize pathos with the least amount of filmic space (so we can get to the action-adventure scenes, the special effects, and the Johnny Depp scenes).

Yet I am surprised to have found this image in both films. Has anyone noticed similar imagery in other films recently?

1 comment:

Tara said...


While not in a movie, Yu Xiuzhen's "Shoes with Butter" being displayed at The Frist represents many things including the persecution of Tibetan monks by the Chinese government. It is a very powerful piece.