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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 14 August 2013
This is not a conventional World War Two movie, despite the impression on the DVD cover. Based on true events it is an exploration of what it means to be human and how people will try to survive under the most appalling condtions. There are no cliched heros or heroics, just a gritty determination of human animals to keep going. We sat rivetted to this film and really didn't know what was going to happen next, unlike much Hollywood fare. The sewers are very convincing portrayed and there is no attempt to glamourise the story or the characters. The film does rather assume that you know the historical setting for this tale and may be some scene setting up front would have helped. The best film I've seen in a while.

And if they ever decide to make a film 'Bono:the later years' the lead actor here is must for the title role.
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on 3 December 2013
Good movie, but not one I would watch again. It's time someone made a movie about what was done to people with mental and physical disabilities during the reign of the third Reich, instead of always concentrating on the jews. Don't get me wrong, what was done to the Jews was awful, but they are not the only ones that suffered. I must say that the movie was original in telling the story of an unknown Polish hero who helped a group of Jews escape Nazi atrocities, but most of what the movie shows is, in my opinion, simply cliché.
The dvd did arrive on time though.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 November 2012
This remarkable film is based on the true story told by Robert Marshall in his book In The Sewers Of Lvov (but before publication of The Girl In The Green Sweater by Krystina Chiger, one of the survivors of these events).
Agnieszka Holland tends to make fims about people in extremis and this is certainly no exception. It is set in the then-Polish city of Lvov (once Lemberg, now Lviv in Ukraine, it has been the most schizophrenic of cities in its long history) and, put simply, concerns a sewer inspector who, in the last year of the war, hides a small group of Jewish men, women and children in the labyrinth of sewers under the city`s streets.
What sets this apart from many other films set during those baleful times is its lack of sensationalism, and the unforced authenticity of the performances. It shares a certain tone of voice, and of course setting, with Polanski`s The Pianist, but is less consciously `artistic` than that fine film, as well as being, on the whole, better acted. The events of In Darkness are dramatic enough and engrossing enough not to need unnecessary elaboration.
All the performances, without exception, are virtually flawless, so I won`t pick out any for special praise, only to mention that the various children are portrayed wonderfully well, which must be mainly due to the director`s tact and taste.
There can not be too many films concerning the Holocaust when they are as good as this one. We (and by `we`, I suppose I mean the generations to come) must never be allowed to ignore or forget the almost unimaginable sufferings of those years, and the part played by too many in turning a blind eye to what was happening under their noses to the Jewish people, by not only the Nazis but those doing their will, however under duress they often were.
Beautifully acted, tautly directed, sensitively shot and well-scripted, only a heart of stone will fail to be moved. The final moments are cathartic, yet strangely ambivalent when one realises how few were in fact saved and how many suffered - in one case as an indirect result of that sewerage worker`s initially reluctant kindness. But then, millions of Jews and other `undesirables` - or simply those in the wrong place - died, while all too few of them survived those horrors.
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on 20 September 2012
This is a film about Jews surviving in the sewers of the Lvow, ofcourse it is heavy going and depressing, but worth watching for paying tribute to those people. But it is not only that!! It is worth watching for the characters, extremely well acted, with interesting characters from Lvow from that period - Poles and Jews, Good portrait of Lvow from that period.It shows Jews and Poles as they were - warts et al, good and bad sides, feels very authentic. I highly recommend it.
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on 16 February 2013
If you like your films to have dramatic truth, this one is for you. The true story told here must have been difficult to translate to the screen, because what these Jews had to undergo as they were hunted like animals by the Nazis is pretty well un-describable.

Despite the tough challenge, "In Darkness" gives us a gripping idea of what it must have been like. Three quarters of the scenes take place in underground tunnels and sewers, a tricky prospect for the cameraman, yet this tense film is a remarkable visual piece of work, and holds the attention from first scene to last.

There is a memorable performance from the actor playing the ordinary character who is drawn into helping these desperate people in their struggle to survive. His conflicts about the right thing to do are well conveyed, and he is totally believable. Over two hours of viewing go so quickly as you are held by this extraordinary story. One of the most vivid films I've seen for a long time- Highly recommended.
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on 17 July 2012
The challenges that we face in life today are put into perspective when compared to what people endured during World War II. Stories about the holocaust are painful yet amazing in the sense that they shows us the strength in people that has no rival. In Darkness (W ciemnosci), directed by Agnieszka Holland, is the true story of a sewer worker that saves the lives of a group of Jews. Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz) is a Pole living in Lwow (now called Lviv and part of Ukraine) in Nazi occupied Poland. He doesn't go out of his way to become a hero, but rather he stumbles on the opportunity to make money hiding Jews in the sewers he knows so well.

Lwow has a rich history for both Poles and Jews that spans many centuries (while today both of these groups are only small minorities), with a mix of ethnicities, including Ukrainians, coexisting peacefully before the war. With the conflict running its course, self-interest and survival are the two primary motivations most people are left with. Leopold risks not only his own life, but also that of his entire family, by assisting the survival of anyone Jewish. The Germans meted out a quick punishment of death to the Poles who tired any heroics. Both the group of Jews and Leopold have some reservations and distrust in each other, but as time goes on, their business arrangement turns into much more.

In Darkness doesn't spare us the brutal events of war and will be quite shocking for some viewers. I would say the film is inappropriate for children for a number of reasons and the squeamish may also find it hard to watch. However, the violence isn't gratuitous, as it only adds to what really went on. The realism is also enhanced by the fact that several languages are used in this movie, including Polish, Yiddish, German and Ukrainian.

No other subject has received as much attention in Polish cinema as World War II. Some say these films acted as a catharsis for the whole country after it witnessed so many horrors. While this still may hold true, these movies also educate their audiences to history many are unaware of. While In Darkness doesn't try to overload us with historical facts or dates, as it subtlety informs us of how life was like in Nazi occupied Poland. We get a good look at the chaotic and brutal way of life people had to endue and come away with an appreciation that things should never be that away again.
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on 15 August 2012
When Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, became allies and invaded Poland in 1939 they divided the country into two zones. There was a German-occupied zone in the west and a Soviet-occupied zone in the east. The Polish city of Lwow [now Lviv in Ukraine] was situated in the Soviet-occupied eastern zone and was, at that time, home to around 120,000 Jews. Over the following 18 months the number of Jews living in the city would swell to more than 220,000 as tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fled from the Nazi-occupied western part of Poland to the relative safety of the Soviet-occupied east. However, on 22 June 1941 Germany reneged on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, declared war on the Soviet Union and launched Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of its former ally. The Germans reached Lwow on 30 June 1941 and immediately set about persecuting the city's Jewish population. At the end of 1941 the Germans established the Lwow Ghetto and all Jews living in the city were forced to move there. By June 1943 the Jews in the ghetto had outlived their usefulness to the Nazis and the ghetto was liquidated. The residents were rounded up, herded onto cattle trucks and sent to their deaths in the Belzec extermination camp. However, a small number of Jews managed to escape into the city's sewers and, with the help of a Polish sewer worker and petty criminal called Leopold Socha, they were able to survive there until the city was liberated by the Red Army on 26 July 1944. This film tells the true story of Leopold Socha and the Jews he saved.

A Polish-German co-production, in Polish with English subtitles, "In Darkness" is an inspiring dramatisation of real events which reminds us that the most ordinary people are capable of the most extraordinary things. The acting is of a high standard and I thought Robert Wieckiewicz was particularly well-cast as the gruff sewer man Leopold Socha [he's soon to play another Polish working-class hero, Lech Walesa, in Andrzej Wajda's long-awaited film "Walesa" about Solidarity and the fall of communism] and he manages to make the character's transition from a rough-as-they-come burglar to a saviour of the downtrodden and oppressed, seem credible. Wieckiewicz's supporting cast of German and Polish actors also work hard to portray the stresses, strains and moral ambiguities of life in wartime. Themes of self-preservation, collaboration, risk, courage, bravery, trust, betrayal, exploitation and, ultimately, redemption are all covered here in a subtle and balanced way. It's probably also worth noting that with so much of the film taking place underground, the lighting on the set also manages to strike the right balance between effectively conveying the claustrophobic darkness of the sewers and allowing the viewer to be able to see what is actually going on. Fortunately, "In Darkness" has not been filmed in darkness - which would have ruined an otherwise excellent production.

I'd recommend this film to anyone interested in Eastern European, Second World War or Holocaust history. Like many films 'based' on true stories it no doubt takes some liberties with the facts in the name of dramatisation. However, it is still a worthwhile testament to the actions of Leopold Socha and the Jews he saved in wartime Lwow. Sadly, Socha himself was killed in a road accident just months after the war ended. One day while out cycling with his daughter an out of control Red Army truck came hurtling towards them. Socha steered his bicycle into his daughter's path to knock her out of the way. He was killed, she survived. Anyone interested in finding out more about this man, the Jews he saved or life in Lwow under Soviet and Nazi occupation, may be interested to know that the only surviving member of 'Socha's Jews', Krystyna Chiger, has written a memoir about her experiences called The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow.
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on 14 February 2016
Great film, wspaniały film! Tells about the fate of a small group of Jewish people hiding in the sewers during the Nazi occupation of Poland, and the inner journey of the Polish man who first demands money to protect them, but who carries on doing so when their money runs out. Horrific treaement and death of Jewish people accompnied by repression, cruelty and in many cases death for Poles. These are stories which need to be told in all their complexity.
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on 25 November 2014
What an amazing story about survival. I thought the film was so well made, the acting was brilliant. I like the fact it was spoken in Polish, it made it more believable. I have to say that I'm not sure what else to say about the film as it was very sad, I'm still a little emotional as I only just finished watching it! I had never heard of Leopold Socha before but I now want to read more about him and the people he saved. I recommend this film!
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on 10 February 2014
This is a compelling film of a true story. Excellent casting. The actors bring to life the fear and tension of being discovered at any moment, having to adjust to a life in the sewers with the stench and rats and always with the will to live. The courage and heroism of Leopold Socha shine throughout. This film will make you cry but there are lighter moments. This is a film not to missed.
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