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During world war 2 a Romanian peasant of Jewish faith is arrested by the local village policeman and sent to a concentration camp. In the camp, due to a mix-up, he is deemed to be of Aryan stock and he is drafted into the Waffen SS. After the war he is detained for having been a member of the SS but he is eventually released and reunited with his family. Written by
We don't know why this extraordinary film was never made available officially on DVD... Anthony Quinn's performance alone makes this a must-see. There are relatively few films in which an actor identifies so profoundly with his character, a phenomenon always unique for us, moviegoers.
But Quinn's powerful portrayal of an innocent Romanian, literally dragged out of his house and everyday life by forces he cannot comprehend, is only part of what makes this film great. The script is based on a book published in Paris by a Romanian priest who fled the Communist take-over of his country, and the film succeeds to go deep into a little known area of East-European history. Told as a succession of Kafka-esquire twists of fate, the misadventures of Johann Moritz (told openly and honestly, without any of the political correctness currently so precious in Hollywood) are in fact a eulogy for the lost innocence of the Romanian people... it is devilishly ironic that this eulogy is signed by a French director, working with the American money of an Italian producer, and overseeing a multinational cast fronted by an extraordinary Mexican-born thespian.
I've seen mentions of VCDs of this film in various Asian internet stores, and I was fortunate to take possession of a digital recording of this film, broadcast on the British version of TCM. But it's a shame that "The 25th Hour" isn't anywhere on the future DVD release map of MGM studios.
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