With Hayden White's notion of the "content of the form" of narrative as a starting point, this article argues that the melodramatic form of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993) constitutes a distinct mode of historical representation that must be critically accounted for alongside the manifest content of the film. This argument is made by linking Linda Williams' discussion of melodrama as an operative mode concerned more with the emotional retrieval of innocence than with rational psychological causality to Peter Brooks's invocation of Freudian case studies to understand how narratives can work towards the revelation of an original "truth" whose ontological status is unclear. Through this integration of Williams and Brooks, the melodramatic quality at play in Schindler's List, which is often read as a liability against the film's representation of history as it affords access to registers of emotional excess that cannot be explained through narrative logic, can be understood as an essential feature of the film's historiography. Moreover, given this tendency towards emotional excess rather than rational causality, this article suggests that the melodramatic historical form can productively address (although not necessarily resolve) the epistemological challenges posed by the Holocaust to representational rendering.


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pp. 66-94
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