On The Reader

This is my second watch of this film The Reader. By the first watch, I got the most contents, and a small and shallow part of its sense. This second view has given me more. I should say The Reader is an excellent movie with complete and condensed, interesting and invoking contents, deep and sound spirits.

The whole story is narrated interspersed with flashbacks. Michael is about 50 now. Some familiar views and the books he read when he was young got his memory back.

Michael got very sick on his way home from high school. He couldn’t even stand still. He got scarflet fever. Hanna helped him. Michael came back later to thank Hanna. The two fell in love, like lovers, and also like mother and son. They made love and read books. Hanna liked to be read to. She couldn’t read and she kept this a secret. Hanna was about 20 years older than Michael. She knew the love wasn’t proper and shouldn’t last long. There were so many differences between them. Michael is an excellent student. But Hanna couldn’t read. So when she got promoted, she moved far away quietly so that Michael couldn’t find her. Michael was desperate at Hanna’s unannounced leaving. Years later, Michael was in university studying laws. The first seminar was on Hanna’s case. Michael got very surprised. Hanna had wanted a job so she went to Auschwitz to work as a guardian for the Jew prisoners. Six guardians chose 60 prisoners together and later sent them to death. I don’t know whether Hanna knew the result of the prisoners. She knew it was her duty to guard them. She kept them in good place and offered them food. She also asked them to read to her. There were battles, bombs everywhere. So they moved to a church in the village. The church got on fire later. The prisoners tried to escape but none of the guardians opened the door. 300 were killed, only a mom and a daughter survived. Hanna didn’t open the door because she thought she was the guardian, and she needed to keep them in order. If she opened the door, they might be killed by bombs. A report by the guardians stated the church burning case. The other five all charged that Hanna wrote this report and they just helped. The judge required Hanna’s handwriting. But shamed of illiteracy, Hanna said, “There is no need. I wrote it.” There is only one who knows that Hanna couldn’t read and it is Michael. But Hanna didn’t want anyone to know this. So Michael couldn’t say. Hanna was sentenced to imprisonment in life. Michael sent Hanna taped of those books and Hanna decided to teach herself to read. She succeeded. Due to her good behavior in prison, she got a parole and she could be released in one week. Hanna had no relatives, no friends. So the guard contacted Michael and hoped Michael could help Hanna. But Hanna refused by killing herself. She left a will and hoped Michael could give the tin box of money she saved to the girl survived. Michael visited the girl and finally got forgiveness for Hanna.

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The relationship between Michael and Hanna, Michael was 15 and it was the time a young boy opens his heart. Hanna was kind, single and very beautiful. This is the first time a woman not relatively concerned cared him so much. Michael depended on Hanna much in spirits. His love was very pure. Hanna was single, lonely. She couldn’t refuse this young boy’s love. I can’t truly understand her love. She was promoted and should leave to work a little bit far. But she knew their love is not proper so she didn’t tell Michael. She wanted this love to end like this. Michael should have his own bright future. So she left quietly. I should say their love is pure.

The reason why Hanna didn’t say she couldn’t read, she is ashamed that she couldn’t read. She tried every chance to get closer to words but she is ashamed so she hoped someone could read to her. So in the camp, she asked the prisoners to read to her. Actually, she hoped they could find something to do and learn something. She thought they loved reading but actually they didn’t, they just could read. Hanna didn’t know this. So in the court, the girl said Hanna is selfish to ask the prisoners to read to her. When Hanna was with Michael, Michael loves reading and Hanna loves being read to so they got on well and enjoyed themselves. She kept it secret because she didn’t want anybody to look down upon her. Actually she admires those who can read. She didn’t tell the judge she couldn’t read for two reasons. First, she didn’t want others to know she couldn’t read. Second, the dead are already dead. Nothing could do about it. She is regretful that she obeyed the order too much and didn’t open the door. So she is guilty any way. So she shouldn’t try to find chances to ask for lighter sentence. So she said she wrote the report.

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The reason why Michael didn’t tell the court that Hanna couldn’t read. Hanna tried to keep it a secret for Hanna didn’t want others to look down upon her. This is something about dignity. This secret is Hanna’s dignity.

Hope those dead in the fire could forgive Hanna.