Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now Learn more

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Jakob The Liar [DVD] [1999]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£5.15+ £1.26 shipping

on 30 November 2013
I wasn't impressed with this film. The plot is a simple one about occupants of a Jewish ghetto in 1944 convincing themselves that Jakob is following the westward advance of the Soviet Red Army with a secret radio which he doesn't have. I presume the film isn't set in the Warsaw ghetto as there's no depiction or even mention of the 1943 Warsaw Uprising. Jakob denies he has a radio at first but then he starts to invent reports once he realises the supposed radio is giving people hope of an end to the war. As a side plot, Jakob is hiding a young girl who escaped a transport train that was passing by.

The film just dragged along, although I did stick it out to the end. The one thing I wasn't impressed with was that much of the production was very inaccurate and it really didn't convey the misery and horror of a Jewish ghetto. This was an opportunity missed. For example, all occupants of the ghettos were starving yet all the actors were obviously well-fed and healthy! People were even depicted cooking and sitting down to meals! Surely more effort could have been taken with depicting the starvation. Even bodies being loaded onto carts were plump! Everyone in the film was living in rooms lit by electric lights and with functioning power points and clean water, yet by 1944 electricity and water supplies had been cut to all the ghettos.
The intense Luftwaffe activity of the retreating Germans was depicted by just three of the standard cheap German/Japanese stand-ins of T-6 Texan/Harvard trainers painted in Luftwaffe colours which just droned slowly overhead once in formation. The German soldiers and SS guards are all stereotyped as bumbling, short-sighted comic oafs who are shown either kicking or beating Jews or still pulling up their trousers as they emerge from the latrine.
At the end of the film the ghetto is liquidated and the occupants loaded into cattle wagons for transport to a nearby death camp. The train is then shown being stopped by Red Army tanks and infantry, thereby saving the Jews on board. However, by the time the Red Army had advanced across Poland and further west rail transports to those areas had long been stopped and all the camps except Majdenuk had been evacuated and destroyed. The tanks were also late-1950s T-55s and not the Red Army's ubiquitous T-34s of WW2 - of which there are still plenty around and there certainly were when the film was made in 1999.

That's quite a list but it shows the scale of the inaccuracies which spoil this film. Not only does the film fail to convey the real horrors of the ghetto but it's another example of history being re-written by film producers. The problem with that of course is that people who don't know the real facts watch the film and then think that was actually what happened! It's a shame the opportunity was missed to depict the real horrors of a Jewish ghetto and to represent the real events a little more accurately.

I can't recommend this film. It's very dull, inaccurate and I didn't enjoy it at all.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 7 January 2015
Set in the Polish ghettos of late WW2 era Poland, the titular Jakob is a down on his luck cafe owner. One small slip up one night causes him to be sent briefly before the commandant. There, he catches news of the war off the German radio. Soon, tall tales begin to emerge around what Jakob heard, and that even he possesses a radio of his own. Initially reluctant, Jakob uses the lie to help bring hope to the desperate residents of the ghetto.

While it may be slow and not walk as fine a balance as say, 'Life is Beautiful', this psuedo Holocaust dark-dramedy can still be admired for trying. Certainly another strong dramatic turn from the late Williams is a major note of importance, and probably his best performance from his 'sap years' (though his acting wasn't the issue with either 'Patch Adams' or 'Bicentennial Man'). He's very toned down and dour, but not without levity or a certain gusto to him that does make him endearing. In supporting roles we have the likes of Liev Schreiber, Alan Arkin, Hannah Taylor Gordon and Armin Mueller-Stahl who all turn in solid work, with Stahl being the highlight as the wise old doctor.

Production wise, it's solid. Peter Kassovitz' direction is graceful and simple, allowing the foulness of the ghettos to speak for themselves, which are rather well recreated, and Edward Shearmur's score has an underlying whimsy though it can get morbid and sombre a number of times. Really, the faults lie more with the writing; there's a missing intensity, a missing gravity to this whole affair. The film just lacks the punch or viscerality or 'The Pianist' or 'Schindler's List', never feeling as horrifying or shocking as it can be, and none of the characters are as compelling as they should be. Not flat, but again, that lack of power does often leave things feeling a tad hollow. It's like Murray's 'The Razor's Edge'; a lot of the right components are here, yet it never muster up full emotion to become as powerful as it needs to be.

That's not to say the movie is bad, as it is a perfectly serviceable WW2 drama, and from a perspective we don't often see. Still, could've been more.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 22 August 2011
Jakob the Liar stars Robin Williams and while I appreciate, that Williams is not necessarily always the first name that springs to mind when casting a film of this grim subject matter, I do think he played a great part. Williams has branched out in the past with such films as Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society, doing a fine job in both instances, but you can still tend to make a prejudgment that this film is out of his range.
With a movie such as this, in which a serious topic is treated with a lighter touch, I cannot think of a man better suited to the job. Williams has a great ability to be light-hearted with his words and display such intense emotion in his face.
I have read several other reviews of this film and they have accused Jakob the Liar of trivialising the holocaust, I disagree, I think the film really put across how horrible it was but really stuck to the opening message of the film, that being that in such tragic times you must really hold onto the small things in life such as jokes, hence the metaphorical despair knob being turned down, just a fraction.
I suppose when there is so little in life to be happy about you have got to just make it up, even at the "real" end of this film when everybody's fate is sealed, the fantasy ending just makes you feel a little better about it all and is that so bad?
The only character in this semi large cast that I found myself caring about is jakob, although the film is trying to make you empathise with secondry characters it never really gets there. The film could also do with a few snips in my opinion the pacing did seem to be a little slow.
Not the greatest dramatic Williams film by a long shot but still worth a look if you are a fan like me.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 18 March 2016
Here is yet another much under-rated Robin Williams movie - Why? My theory is the subject matter. It is set during World War II and focuses on a community of Polish Jews with Poland under German occupation. It has humour, it has sadness, there are probably moments that will bring bad painful memories for some - especially those who were perhaps young children at the time and were fortunate enough to survive. Or anyone who has experienced something like this at any time in their lives; no matter where they are in the World!

Yes, they must have been terrible times, but back then communities were stronger, people cared more about each other and helped each other and there was humour too and life went on in spite of it all. See this for what it is - a great movie with a very clever and uplifting story. It also has a great lead character and a strong and impressive supporting cast. What would it cost you to watch it?
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 5 December 2016
Despite the grim setting and the even grimmer reality behind it this is a fantastic film and really quite comical in parts. Robin Williams is superb as the Jewish prison camp inmate who overhears news that an Allied invasion is imminent and spreads the word as a glimmer of hope.This leads his fellow prisoners to think he has a radio - certainly punishable by death - but he finds himself under pressure to use the imaginary radio. Liev Schreiber is brilliant as the inmate who keeps dropping him in it. This is not an easy watch - holocaust stories rarely are - but it is worthwhile and memorable.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 21 July 2017
How to love the tragedy Robbin Williams in his very serious role . We sometimes suffer from phony Holocaust propaganda but let's try to see beyond inside the case story and intent, where suffering of people is absurd experience as Westbank Crossing for Palestinians, un-necessary experience of ppoverty and dominance . To Interpolate this Gheto to Gaza and West Bank environment where people are cut off from Humanity as Jews were in the time what this Movie documents. Great Movie .
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 March 2015
This really is an ok dvd.Wanted to watch it for a while and was fine with my decision.The story of a Jew locked in a ghetto,who invents stories to make those horrendous times a teeny bit better.Unfortunately, his lies take over and he finds himself having to tell more and more lies to cover up the previous ones[doesn't any liar??].A good film with some decent acting.I didn't expect the ending----obviously not going to say!!I would say to anyone 'take a look' I am sure you wont be disappointed.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 8 July 2013
Anyone wishing to write a story about human suffering has to tread carefuly, especially when a lot of the history is sometimes misunderstood by people. however this movie has managed to overcome the facts of historical events so as not to seem like a documentary or just another holocaust film. it focuses on one man and his story. very well done, great acting by Robin Williams. sometimes humourous in the face of advercity, but always respectful, soul searching in places. I would certainly reccomend this for anyone who feels they are missing out in life, perhaps our problems aren't so bad after all.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 22 February 2015
Absolutely brilliant film! I only came across this film by chance, I'd never heard of it. It's both moving, sad and funny. Robin Williams gives a great performance as Jacob, god rest his soul. The whole film for me was a joy to watch, great story set in a tragic period of our history. A must see.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 7 September 2017
Wasn't that great considering Robin Williams was in it was hoping it'd get better but it didn't
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)