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Playing for Time (1980)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama, Music  |  30 September 1980 (USA)
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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")
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Title: Playing for Time (TV Movie 1980)

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

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User Reviews

The best TV production ever.
3 April 1999 | by (chicago) – See all my reviews

Firstly I have to say that this is not your usual stereotype Jewish holocaust movie: It goes much, much beyond any ideological rhetoric, to deal with Human condition.However, you have the Concentration Camp as a background for one of the best contemporary playwrights (arguably The best!) to create and develop his masterpiece .It is worthwhile to know that Arthur Miller persisted in his demand to put Venessa Redgrave in the the leading role, in spite of all the threats and protests of JDL.Here, she presents one of her most magnificent performances as an Artist trapped in the most dehumanizing conditions one could imagine.The dialogue is absolutely superb, and the actings are quite decent.A must see.

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