Playing for Time (1980)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, Music  |  30 September 1980 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 756 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 8 critic

Female prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp (Auschwitz) are spared from death in return for performing music for their captors.


, (uncredited)


, (autobiography: "The Musicians of Auschwitz")
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Holocaust (TV Mini-Series 1978)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The saga of a Jewish family's struggle to survive the horror of Nazi Germany's systematic marginalization and extermination of their community.

Stars: Joseph Bottoms, Tovah Feldshuh, Rosemary Harris
Out of the Ashes (TV Movie 2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Based on a true story, this heart-wrenching film follows the journey of Gisella Perl (Christine Lahti), a Jewish-Hungarian doctor who manages to... Based on a true story, this ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Sargent
Stars: Christine Lahti, Bruce Davison, Jonathan Cake
The Grey Zone (2001)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A Nazi doctor, along with the Sonderkomando, Jews who are forced to work in the crematoria of Auschwitz against their fellow Jews, find themselves in a moral grey zone.

Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Stars: David Arquette, Velizar Binev, David Chandler
Escape from Sobibor (TV Movie 1987)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

During WWII, the death camp at Treblinka had an escape, causing the Commandant at a similar camp in Sobibor to vow that his camp would never experience the same thing. But those who were ... See full summary »

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Alan Arkin, Joanna Pacula, Rutger Hauer
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A group of people are imprisoned in a rail car bound from Berlin to a concentration camp in 1945.

Directors: Joseph Vilsmaier, Dana Vávrová
Stars: Gedeon Burkhard, Lale Yavas, Lena Beyerling
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A Jewish ghetto in the east of Europe, 1944. By coincidence, Jakob Heym eavesdrops on a German radio broadcast announcing the Soviet Army is making slow by steady progress towards central ... See full summary »

Director: Frank Beyer
Stars: Vlastimil Brodský, Erwin Geschonneck, Henry Hübchen
Julia (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

At the behest of an old and dear friend, playwright Lillian Hellman undertakes a dangerous mission to smuggle funds into Nazi Germany.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Mary Stuart, who was named Queen of Scotland when she was only six days old, is the last Roman Catholic ruler of Scotland. She is imprisoned at he age of 23 by her cousin Elizabeth Tudor, ... See full summary »

Director: Charles Jarrott
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Patrick McGoohan
Fateless (2005)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

14-year-old György's life is torn apart in World War II Hungary as he is sent to a concentration camp where he is forced to become a man, and learns to find happiness in the midst of hatred, and what it really means to be Jewish.

Director: Lajos Koltai
Stars: Marcell Nagy, Béla Dóra, Bálint Péntek
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A young man returning home from World War II finds himself caught up in his parents' turbulent relationship.

Director: Ulu Grosbard
Stars: Patricia Neal, Jack Albertson, Martin Sheen
Europa Europa (1990)
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A boy in Nazi Germany, trying to conceal that he is Jewish, joins the Hitler Youth.

Director: Agnieszka Holland
Stars: Solomon Perel, Marco Hofschneider, René Hofschneider
God on Trial (TV Movie 2008)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Awaiting their inevitable deaths at one of the worst concentration camps, a group of Jews make a rabbinical court to decide whether G-d has went against the holy covenant and if He is the one guilty for their suffering.

Director: Andy De Emmony
Stars: Joseph Muir, Josef Altin, Ashley Artus


Cast overview, first billed only:
Fania Fenelon
Alma Rose
Donna Haley ...
Lenore Harris ...
Mady Kaplan ...
Frau Schmidt
Marcell Rosenblatt ...


In World War II, the Jewish French musician and cabaret singer Fania Fenelon Goldstein is sent by the Nazis from Paris to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The guards take her clothing and luggage and they cut her hair very short. One day, when she is very weak, she hears someone asking whether any prisoner could sing Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly and she joins the group of musicians that have been spared from the gas chambers to entertain the Nazis performing music for them. She convinces the conductor Alma Rose to invite her friend Marianne, telling that she would be a talented singer. Along the years of abusive treatment, they survive but losing their dignity. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music





Release Date:

30 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amarga Sinfonia de Auschwitz  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Barbra Streisand was originally offered the role of Fania Fenelon. Streisand resembles the real Fenelon much more than Vanessa Redgrave, who ultimately took the part. See more »


When the group of women are getting off the train at Auschwitz, Several Camp officers, are wearing Wehrmacht Officers hats which are clearly visible by the Crests they have on them. The SS hats have the Deaths Head (Totenkopf) symbol. No Wehrmacht Officer has ever been to known to work in any labor or death camp. Most of the regular Wehrmacht (Army) claimed to have had no knowledge about the Death Camps. See more »


Referenced in Paradise Road (1997) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

very moving human drama
15 March 2004 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

This moving human Drama is one of the most touching movies I have ever seen.

Vanessa Redgrave is superb and strong as Fania Fénelon, a jewish singer from

France ending up in Auschwitz, and makes the role of her life.

I would say it is as important and grand as 'Schindler's List' and 'The Pianist', about the horrors of the Holocaust.

So, why is this not available on video? I've been trying for years to get hold of a copy of this moving drama.. and nobody seems to know who's holding the

copyright... It's really a shame that this classic is not available on dvd!!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Looking for this movie Catherina-Wirtz
Vanessa Redgrave at her best! teeseller
A DVD version is a must asr-5
What is that song? mark_linehan
SOnG HELP please ashleyramharock-108
Playing for Time pertson
Discuss Playing for Time (1980) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: