During World War II, Switzerland severely limited refugees: "Our boat is full." A train from Germany halts briefly in an isolated corner of Switzerland. Six people jump off seeking asylum: ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tina Engel ...
Judith Krueger
Hans Diehl ...
Hannes Krueger
Martin Walz ...
Olaf Landau
Curt Bois ...
Lazar Ostrowskij
Ilse Bahrs ...
Frau Ostrowskij
Gerd David ...
Simone ...
Gitty
Laurent ...
Maurice
Renate Steiger ...
Anna Flueckiger
Mathias Gnädinger ...
Franz Flueckiger
...
Landjäger Bigler
Klaus Steiger ...
Reverend Hochdorfer
Alice Bruengger ...
Frau Hochdorfer
Otto Dornbierer ...
Otti
Monika Koch ...
Rosemarie
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Storyline

During World War II, Switzerland severely limited refugees: "Our boat is full." A train from Germany halts briefly in an isolated corner of Switzerland. Six people jump off seeking asylum: four Jews, a French child, and a German soldier. They seek temporary refuge with a couple who run a village inn. They pose as a family: the deserter as husband, Judith as his wife, an old man from Vienna as her father, his granddaughter and the French lad, whom they beg to keep silent, as their children. Judith's teenage brother poses as a soldier. The fabrication unravels through chance and the local constable's exact investigation. Whom will the Swiss allow to stay? Who gets deported? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

18 December 1981 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Boat Is Full  »

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1.66 : 1
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Switzerland's official submission to the 1982's Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Tragic but powerful and deeply moving
23 June 2009 | by (Los Angeles, Calif.) – See all my reviews

When the von Trapp family make it over the border to Switzerland, their ordeal is over and all is well (or so "Sound of Music" implies). Not so with the six forlorn refugees of "The Boat is Full." Having reached Switzerland after a perilous escape from Nazi Germany, their ordeal has just begun. They end up in a small village where an innkeeper couple take them in and try their best to provide food, clothing, shelter, and protection from the authorities.

The movie examines the attitudes of the Swiss towards refugees who were escaping Germany and seeking safety in their country. It provides a good insight not only into the official policies regarding which refugees were allowed to stay and which were forced to be repatriated, but also the attitudes of the common people. Some were openly hateful, most were indifferent and callous, many genuinely compassionate and kind.

The overall arc of the story is less important with this movie than the individual scenes and episodes that take place. Each conveys a particular pathos and engraves itself in one's memory with indelible force. The acting is almost totally transparent: you feel these are real people going through real events. The refugees' blank, despondent expressions, the gradual transformation of the innkeeper husband from suspicion to tolerance to outright kindness, the harsh authoritarian attitudes of the policeman, these all contribute to the film's effect.

It's a stark film to watch: there is no score, the colors are heavily muted and drab, and there are few points of comfort or cheer. One is left with a profoundly ambivalent view of the Swiss and Switzerland, which apparently was known as the "lifeboat" of central Europe (hence the irony in the title). The film is basically examining where the line could/should have been drawn between compassion and the need to maintain Swiss neutrality and protect its own borders and feed its people.


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