I feel fortunate to have seen this movie and I wish I had known about it years earlier. I have earlier heard about Raoul Wallenberg as a person who disappeared into the Stalin Soviet political prison system, but I knew little else. It is apparently still a mystery as to why he must have been a threat to Stalin unless Stalin presumed that Wallenberg would have remained in Hungary and agitated against the impending communist state. Regardless, Wallenberg's exploits to ultimately save thousands of Jews from extermination by fanatical Nazi's and Hungarian fascists is a story worth retelling.
What is most poignant about the story is that Wallenberg is presented as a very average person, but a person witnessing atrocities in German held territories. For most of the war, he was like the many thousands who too knew of the genocide and did nothing. But, for his own reasons, he chose to become involved. His role was relatively short (less than a year) and it could have been a complete failure. In fact, he did greatly succeed according to not only this movie, but in many other accounts of his actions. But, his success was less the story than his unselfish efforts. Unlike the majority who remained blissfully ignorant, he had enough self-awareness so as to judge himself unfavorably for life if he did not act. To me that is the real lesson, what did this story tell me about myself and what all of us should do when we see injustice?
It is true that the movie did not focus as much on his many achievements, but the film makers decided to keep the film within two hours and to increase the drama by alluding to the triumphs and viewing him in moments of dire consequences and severe spiritual strain. He witnessed children murdered and we could empathize with his helplessness. The film presents these death scenes matter-of-factly as Wallenberg looks at the survivors who until that moment saw him as a mythical character who could stop all such killings. Wallenberg was often able to escape for his safety, but stayed. Would any of us have done the same? I hope that I would have, but I can never know. I only hope that whatever he finally faced in Soviet prison, he knew an internal peace of having done more than he ever thought possible of himself. Please see this movie and show it to your children to keep these lessons alive.