Journal Article

Musical catharsis and identity in Holocaust cinema: Der letzte Zug (2006)


Holocaust representation in film has received much academic attention, with a focus on how cinematography and the narrative may assist our memorialization process. One aspect of film which has received little academic attention, however, is the issue surrounding the musical accompaniments of such films. The three countries of East, West and reunified Germany each attempted to engage with the Holocaust, including through the medium of film. They have done so in contrasting ways and to varying degrees of effectiveness. The opposing political, social and cultural environments of East and West Germany outweighed their geographical proximity. Likewise, reunified Germany developed a third, divergent approach to Holocaust engagement. This article examines a film co-produced by reunified Germany and the Czech Republic, and places the musicological study of its film score in an interdisciplinary context with film music theory, Holocaust representation in film, and German politics, history and culture. Through a textual analysis of the original and pre-existing score in Der letzte Zug (2006), this article examines how musical flashbacks in film offer the audience a sense of catharsis and respite from a challenging narrative, and engages with the significance of identity and religion in the music used during the flashbacks.

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Lawson, Matt

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Arts


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-03-07

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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