9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Made in 1963 this is an award winning film from director Zbynek Brynych who was more known for his TV work in his later life. This tells the story of the Terezin ghetto. The Jews there were allowed to run their own affairs up to a point but that came with the obligation to actively collaborate with their Nazi gaolers. Terezin was used as a marshalling yard for the transportation of Jews from all over Europe to what they were told was `resettlement' but was in fact death camps.
It opens with a propaganda film being made for the World to see just how great it was to be in a ghetto run by the Third Reich. We also get to meet a number of the people who are being held captive and those that will do whatever it takes to save their own skin. The news of the death camps has now reached them so many are under no illusions as to what beholds them at the end of a torturous journey in a cattle truck. They have also heard how close the Russians are and know that liberation can not be far away.
There are themes running throughout this too like the sounds of planes flying overhead. The frequency of these gets quicker as the film unfolds giving the feeling that the front is getting ever closer. The sound of the transport trains lonely whistle gets more frequent too though and starts to become more haunting than evocative by the end. There are also constant role calls and endless lists to be compiled.
There is a lot here that is food for thought but I felt what made it more essential is that this was made less than twenty years after the end of the war - for some of these actors this was not ancient history but events that happened during their lifetime. It is in Czeck and German with good subtitles - although not every piece of dialogue is translated. There is a fair smattering of other European languages too. In black and white and running to 92 minutes, this is a film that all film students should see; it is not a pleasant experience but it was never meant to be and there are moments of hope mixed in with the tragedy - absolutely recommended.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
962 appears to be the year when the film industry shook off the stupor and began to explore the pain. This film is similar to KAPO except made in Czech. Echoing the work of Arnost Lustig and Hannah Arendt the film explores complicity, destruction, resistance, sexual abandon, exploitation, sympathy and empathy.
The "Germans" are not one dimensional in their sadism, although the film does not flinch from those who have a complete and utter personality disorder where they cannot visualise the human in the being. This appears to be uniform for those who were given rank and command. The Jews meanwhile veer from acceptance, acquiescence resistance and disbelief. The film hovers on the desire to maintain a facade at Thieresenstadt, the model camp. Here decorum was kept intact and propaganda perceived as a virtue in maintaining the grand fiction.
National Socialist Germany - which was neither - was founded upon the myths promulgated within psychiatry around genetics, fitness and race. Here in stark black and white the regime unfolds in a bureaucratic minutae with relentless roll calls and resounding callousness without sinking to the depravity of what the next step in the solution was.
It is a well acted and masterful film once again emanating from Eastern Europe frozen behind the iron curtain. Ironic that the best war films of the era were concocted in Czeck, Russia and Poland