The Wandering Jew in 'An Education':
The Anatomy of an Anti-Semitic FilmFrom Fight Hated:
Nazi caricature of "The Wandering Jew"
Jenny: “Oh, and by the way ... David’s a Jew, a wandering Jew. So watch yourself.”We were only 15 minutes into the film and this was the second reference to the “Wandering Jew,” an age-old, European anti-Semitic stereotype. The British coming-of-age film, “An Education,” had gotten rave reviews, yet the more I watched, the more the character of David Goldman resembled the parasitical Jew of “Der Ewige Juden” (“The Eternal Jew”) — one of the infamous 1930s Nazi propaganda films I had studied in Peter Loewenberg’s class at UCLA.From the moment David starts following the teenage Jenny in his fancy car, the pudgy, effete David Goldman (played by Peter Sarsgaard) proclaims his ethnicity. (Jenny: “I’m not a Jew.” David: “No, I am. I wasn’t ... accusing you.”) Like the predatory creature characterized in “Der Ewige Juden,” Goldman pretends to adopt the values of his host culture in order to turn its treasures into his profit. He offers Jenny “three five-pound notes” to drive her cello home safely out of the rain; “I’m a music lover,” he tells her. Then he proceeds to corrupt the innocent gentile girl (played by Carey Mulligan) with expensive flowers, gifts, concerts, art auctions and trips to Oxford and Paris.David enriches himself by ruining good English neighborhoods, deflating property values and looting cultural treasures from displaced widows. He moves blacks into white neighborhoods: “Shvartzes,” he tells Jenny, “have to live somewhere; it’s not as if they can rent from their own kind.” The only identifiable Jew in the film, he constantly uses the collective “we” to justify his wickedness: “This is how we are, Jenny,” Goldman editorializes. “We’re not clever like you, so we have to be clever in other ways, because if we weren’t, there would be no fun.” He uses the word “stats” for old ladies he victimizes. They “are scared of colored people; so we move the coloreds in and the old ladies out and I buy their flats cheap.” Along with his partner, Danny, David barges into a house, military style, and speeds away with precious relics. “We have to be clever with maps,” he tells Jenny. An ancient map, he rationalizes, “shouldn’t spend its life on a wall…. We know how to look after it…. We liberated it.”
Read the whole thing.