Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust’

 Today I saw a preview screening of the film, Defiance.  I have to be honest I really wasn’t interested in seeing this film and only went for the Q&A afterwards (ahem Daniel Craig was there) and I didn’t know anything about ti except it was set during WWII.  

Defiance begins in the summer of 1941 when the Nazi’s are beginning their reign of terror on the Jewish.  The film opens with a raid on a small village and the Bielski’s Brothers parents being killed.  The brothers , knowing they cannot stay in the village, flee to the forest.  Soon more survivors follow and a new Jewish Community is formed.  Through many trials including death, fights, starvation, sickness, weather and being shot at by the Nazi’s the Jewish show us a the true meaning of faith and perseverance.  This also makes Defiance a different take on the situation.  It shows Jews fighting back and refusing to give up.  Plus it has a positive ending, which I will not give away, but the survivors relatives now number in the tens of thousands.  During the film, you feel as if you are experiencing every event with the characters this is mainly due to the approach Zwick took by never go into the characters’ past.  Their story begins with the audience, not before them.

After the screening, the PGA sponsored a Q&A with director/producer, Ed Zwick, Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, and Pieter Jan Brugge (producer).  Immediately you could see that the onscreen brotherly chemistry between Craig, Schrieber, and Bell was founde din their off screen/on set antics. Even Zwick teased Craig about being Bond.  Plus Schrieber is a comedian using just a look as a comment to send the audience into a laughing mob.  

The film took 12 years to be made and cost only $30 million.  Though not pennies, keep in mind Craig was paid approx. $5million for the recent Bond film.  All crew and cast took a very small salary and agreed upon French working hours which means they took running lunches and did not take breaks.  Plus none of the actors ever left set aka: they did not isolate themselves in their trailers between scenes.  They were shooting in Lithuania, during the winter when the light is limited and you have problems with snow, rain, and swamps.  

Overall the film triumphs.  Along with showing another side of the Holocaust, it reminds us the ability of humans to overcome and survive amongst the worst times.  Also, the power of family and how vengeance never equals the happy ending one so desires.  Defiance is in limited theaters December 31st and opens wide January 16th.  http://www.defiancemovie.com/

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Last night, I saw this film. I had a lot invested in seeing this film, not only because of my cultural and religious ties to the Holocaust, but because I was an intern at Miramax Films when this film was in production. As vicious as my superiors were to me, they were kind and passionate and gentle when speaking about this “amazing character piece being shot right now”. I heard the title, didn’t think much of it, didn’t know of the book and blew it off. But then I saw a rough one sheet (that’s a poster) floating around the office and immediately dug around to find something about it. I found the script and on top of it a short summery. Since that day I had been talking about it and waiting for it to come out.

Director Mark Herman (l) with Cinematographer Benoit Delhomme (r)

Director Mark Herman (l) with Cinematographer Benoit Delhomme (r)

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the story of two young boys- aged 8- who become unlikely friends in a time when they both found themselves lonely. Bruno, played by Asa Butterfield, is the young German son of a high ranking Nazi soldier. His family was relocated from the loud city of Berlin to the quiet and seemingly boring countryside. Shmuel, played by Jack Scanlon, is a young Jewish boy whose family was also relocated to the quiet seemingly boring countryside, but for very different reasons. bruno

Bruno found himself bored with nothing to do besides pretend to listen to the Nazi provided tutor, and begin to explore behind the house. His back yard was a beautiful forest with creeks and paths and an opening to a large fenced in “farm” or so Bruno thought. He met a boy his age who was sitting by the edge of the fence. As young children do, Bruno asked Shmuel the question “why do you always wear pajamas?”, Shmuel timidly answered “because the soldiers took all of our clothes”. shmuel

The innocent friendship proves to be one that changes their lives forever.at-the-fence

First let me say aesthetically it was stunning. The colors were so vibrant and vivid. This detail is important to me because, especially as a Jew, I cannot watch another dark grey and brown film about the Holocaust. I’ve seen so many, and they are so important, but there comes a time when it’s too hard to watch. I was so impressed with how horrifying yet child like the film was. This truly was from the perspective of the child and can be watched by a child. Much of this, I assume (as I have not read the book) must be attributed to the Author John Boyne. book-cover

It was terrifying but not scary; mind-blowing but not incomprehensible; devastating but happy. I urge you to go see this film.

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Book Review:518gtgzstfl_sl500_aa240_

Last week I read the book, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  To be honest I really didn’t feel like reading this book by a friend, who happens to have good taste in literature, recommended it so I figured it would probably be good.  Oh was I wrong; it was great!  

The Book Thief is set in Germany, during and post – World War II. The story is told from the point of view of Death, a reluctant collector of souls, who does not enjoy the job appointed to him. One of the few pleasures he has is in the story of the book thief, Liesel Meminger, whom he encounters three times. Liesel’s story begins when she and her brother are sent away by their mother to the Hubermanns, a foster family. However, on the way to the small town outside Munich where the Hubermanns live, Liesel’s six-year-old brother dies after developing a cough. As the gravediggers are burying her brother, Werner, Liesel steals the gravedigger’s handbook, despite her inability to read.  – wikipedia

Stealing the first book sets Liesel into a pattern of stealing books and is how the story unfolds.  Each section of the story is told around another instance in which Liesel steals a book or is given a book.  In the end, the giving of books even saves her life.  

Having Death, who is not portrayed as scary or dark, tell the story of a girl’s journey during the Holocaust puts a new perspective on history.  Death loathes the war and the unnecessary work it gives him and by the end of the story even Death is deeply tortured by Humans and our ability to survive and endure.  I highly recommend The Book Thief and do not be deterred by it’s length.  It’s like reading a Harry Potter book, the pages fly by and before you want to reach it, you’ve come to the story’s conclusion.

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Irene Nemirovsky is was Russian born, in 1903. This was a time where travel and living in other countries was an adventure that just had to be taken, especially when you come from a wealthy banking family and it’s the Russian Revolution, like in Irene’s case. She emigrated, not fled- let’s be clear, to France where she had a beautiful life which included studying at the Sorbonne. It was there where she polished her skills as writer filled with imagination and experience.  Her charmed life as a novelist quickly and almost out of the blue to this idealist Russian Jew was ripped apart as the Holocaust took everything sacred and dear from her.

Irene had published 14 works in her life, none of which were politically driven. Still, despite the fact that she had converted to Catholicism, and her huge impact made on the French cultural world, she was deported to Auschwitz where she died in 1942.

Irene was such a talent, and had so many words floating in her head that 7 of her works were later found and published, posthumously. 


2 of her novels that are popular in the United States are “Suite Francaise” and “Fire in the Blood”. I just finished “Fire in the Blood” and her ability to put you in the story, standing next to the main character is fantastic. She writes vividly and beautifully.

Please find more information about these two books:



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