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The fictionalized story of Daniel, the son of Paul and Rochelle Isaacson, who were executed as Soviet spies in the 1950s. As a graduate student in New York in the 1960s, Daniel is involved in the antiwar protest movement and contrasts his experiences to the memory of his parents and his belief that they were wrongfully convicted. Written by
Michael C. Berch <email@example.com>
The picture was launched in 1983 and was released hot-on-the-heels of another E.L. Doctorow filmed adaptation, Ragtime (1981), which had been released just two years earlier, and had garnered eight Academy Award nominations. Actor Mandy Patinkin appeared in both films. See more »
E.L.Doctorow the American author most known for his book "Ragtime" also wrote a book called "Daniel" an fictional account of Julius and Ethel Rosenebrg, the couple that was executed in the 1950's for suspicion of being Comunists spies. In "Daniel" (now the movie) Doctorow wrote the screenplay based on his own book and made a great work very similar to his work and added a very peculiar cinematographic language.
Sidney Lumet directs the story of Daniel (played by Timothy Hutton) a depressed and conflicted young man that pays for the supposed sins of his father and mother Paul and Rochelle Isaacson (played by Mandy Patinkin and Lindsay Crouse respectively), a Jewish couple executed in the electric chair for being considered enemies of the state. Daniel's story is told in flashbacks and in chapters where Daniel appears in front of the camera narrating several forms of executions and what happens to people during the act. This a reminder of what we're gonna see happening with his parents.
Daniel's story is presented in the future where he tries to clean his parents name, searching the people who met them, the lawyer (Edward Asner) that helped the Isaacson family during the trials and Daniel's sister (Amanda Plummer) a woman that suffered even more than his brother with the family's division and their parents death, and now she's living in a medical clinic. Daniel's story also covers his childhood (here he's played by Ilan Mitchell-Smith). He didn't understand what his parents were doing by attending a social meeting with many protestants that were against bombs construction in the 1940's and 1950's.
This is a powerful story about family's past and future, the decisions that parents made by not telling simple facts to their sons and what eventually this may cause. You see that Daniel as a kid wants to know everything that happens to his father but he keeps the boy away. In the prison, when the family have their last meeting it's really hard not say the truth about what's gonna happen to the parents and their sad end. There's no other way for Paul and Rochelle. It's also a story about a man who can't let go of his past, thinking that everything that happened with their parents ruined everyone's life and his vision of world, since now he's a protestant against the war on Vietnam. It really follows very close the book, without any main differences.
It's difficult to understand why this movie is not talked and discussed very much, or why it wasn't one of the Sidney Lumet's work to be considered one of his great works. It has great performances by the cast (Hutton and Asner has the most notable performances), a good screenplay with a very relevant story based on true events. Absolutely great. 10/10
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