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Ostatni etap (1948)

 -  Drama  -  21 March 1949 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 103 users  
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Martha Weiss, a Jew, is sent to Auschwitz concentration camp with her family. On the first day of their arrival Martha is, by a coincidence, chosen as an interpreter, but her entire family ... See full summary »

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Title: Ostatni etap (1948)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tatjana Gorecka ...
Eugenia, doctor-prisoner
Antonina Gordon-Górecka ...
Anna, nurse-prisoner
Barbara Drapinska ...
Marta Weiss
Aleksandra Slaska ...
Superintendent of the Women's Block
Barbara Rachwalska ...
Elza
Wladyslaw Brochwicz ...
Commandant of Auschwitz (as Wlad. Brochwicz)
Edward Dziewonski ...
Auschwitz Medical Officer
Kazimierz Pawlowski ...
Gestapo Chief
Alina Janowska ...
Dessa, nurse-prisoner
Mariya Vinogradova ...
Nadja, a nursing aide
Stanislaw Zaczyk ...
Tadek
Stefan Sródka ...
Bronek
Janina Marisówna ...
Deputy superintendent of the Women's Block
Huguette Faget ...
Michele, French prisoner
Zofia Mrozowska ...
Dessa - the Gypsy Prisoner
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Storyline

Martha Weiss, a Jew, is sent to Auschwitz concentration camp with her family. On the first day of their arrival Martha is, by a coincidence, chosen as an interpreter, but her entire family is killed. Waiting for the Red Army to deliver them from the prison camp, the film depicts Martha and her friends' struggling life under the tyranny of camp guards and equally bad 'capos', administrative personnel chosen from among the prisoners. Written by Heikki A.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

21 March 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Last Stage  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was partly shot on location at Auschwitz concentration camp. The film is based on director Wanda Jakubowska's personal expierences as a prisoner at Auschwitz. She claimed that what helped her to survive Auschwitz was constantly thinking about the documentation of her experiences. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Lesson of Polish Cinema (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Neorealism at Auschwitz
24 July 2009 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

Though rarely shown and hardly available this is one of the most remarkable films about the concentration camp of Auschwitz ever made. Shot as early as 1947, partly on location at the camp, even featuring former inmates among the actors, and using original languages, OSTATNI ETAP is a kind of first-hand re-enactment and gives for the most part a very convincing, gripping and realistic portrait of what life was like at the camp. The film is well directed and staged,occasionally using dramatic compositions and lightning to a striking effect. It is actually no less impressive as any then-contemporary film by Roberto Rossellini and other of the "neo-realist" school. The whole now-familiar iconography of Holocaust cinema is already there, probably for the first time, copied in hundreds of movies to come. Andrzej Munk's more stylized PASAZERKA is clearly influenced by the OSTATNI ETAP as both films are set in a woman's camp and feature sadistic female SS-guards.

However, due to historical circumstances there are many aspects in the film which have later been more or less dropped or at least received lesser attention. The role of women as both victims and perpetrators is at the center of the film, and large space is given to show the cruelty of Kapos, block elders (women with a black triangle, implicating "Anti-socials" and criminals) and SS-collaborating and egoistic inmates as well. The concept of primary Jewish suffering at Auschwitz now at the core of the narrative is de-emphasized, and the Jews are presented as just one of many peoples (f.e. Russians and French are shown) interned and murdered there. There is a more explicit focus on communists and Poles being victimized, as well as a clear sympathy for Stalin and the Red Army, which also shows in the rather unconvincing melodramatic final scene, when the heroine, facing execution, holds an accusing speech against their henchmen while soviet planes appear in the sky like in a last-minute-rescue. A final title claims the highly exaggerated number of 4.5 Mio victims at Auschwitz, a number that was corrected only decades later, in 1990.

The portrayal of the SS is effective but pretty cliché-ridden, and the stereotypes presented here have become stock ingredients of the genre - such as fat, ugly, stupid and vain Nazis with scars on their faces and Iron Crosses on their fancy uniforms, cynically dancing waltzes and drinking champagne in their "free" time, stiff cigarette-smoking-"we-have-ways-to-make-you-talk"-torture-officers, and Ilse-Koch-like SS women.

Overall OSTATNI ETAP is both an exceptionable document and a well-made film, which beats SCHINDLER'S LIST by far. It is a pity that this film has become so obscure.


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