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We saw the 1961 film "Samson" by Andrzej Wajda on Saturday. This was a black and white movie in Polish with English subtitles. There were a few instances in which the dialog did not have subtitles. This was limited to a few lines here and there. This movie was set in Warsaw and the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. It was much like "The Pianist" by Roman Polanski (2002). The lead actor even looked like Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) of "The Pianist."
"Samson" is the story of a Jew, Jakub Gold (Serge Merlin), at the polytechnic university in Warsaw imprisoned and sentenced to 10 years for accidentally killing his friend in German- occupied Poland. In prison he makes several contacts that will factor later in the movie. The prisoners are released when Warsaw is bombed. Jakub is sent to the Warsaw ghetto where the Jews are "doomed to death for the crime of existence" and is assigned to picking up corpses from the streets and helping to provide them with a Jewish burial. Along the way he picks up his own mother. After one such burial Jakub and another man escape from the ghetto. After he escapes he desires to go back into the ghetto to share the fate of his kinsmen. After being locked in an apartment building after curfew he meets a woman, Lucyna (Alina Janowska) , who is also a Jew but who has been hiding her identity in order to survive. Lucyna falls in love with him. She tells him "You know what it's like to escape the Warsaw ghetto but I escape every day." They are separated. Lucyna thinks that Jakub went back into the ghetto. She identifies herself as a Jew to the Germans in order to be sent to the ghetto in order to find him. (Shades of an O. Henry tale here.) Meanwhile he finds refuge in an apartment belonging Józef Malina (Jan Ciecierski), whom he met in prison, and Malina's niece, Kazia (Elzbieta Kepinska). Jakub wishes that he had the strength of the biblical Samson to fight the Germans single handedly. Kazia falls for him. Jakub vacillates and instead of returning to the ghetto hides in their basement until the Warsaw uprising has ended. He only returns to the ghetto after the Germans had put down uprising and destroyed the ghetto in the process. Afterwards he meets others of the resistance.
It was not quite clear why Jakob did not return to the Warsaw ghetto and instead spent his time with Mr. Malina and Kazia. He did not have the strength of the biblical Samson after all I suppose.
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