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Triumph of the Spirit (1989)

6.9
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Fact based story about a former Greek Olympic boxer who was taken as a prisoner during World war II and placed in the Auschwitz prison camp. There he was permitted to survive as long as he ... See full summary »

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Title: Triumph of the Spirit (1989)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Gypsy
...
Father Arouch
Wendy Gazelle ...
Allegra
...
Elena
...
Avram Arouch
Kario Salem ...
Jacko
Edward Zentara ...
Janush
...
Maj. Rauscher
Burkhard Heyl ...
Aide to Rauscher
Zofia Saretok ...
Momma
Grazyna Krukówna ...
Sister Julie
Karolina Twardowska ...
Bemmi
Juranda Krol ...
Sarah
Wiktor Mlynarczyk ...
Beppo
Edit

Storyline

Fact based story about a former Greek Olympic boxer who was taken as a prisoner during World war II and placed in the Auschwitz prison camp. There he was permitted to survive as long as he fought for the amusement of his captors. His father and brother were also held as insurance that he would continue to fight. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prisoner | fight | prison | boxer | greek | See All (136) »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

23 December 1989 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

A pokol bajnoka  »

Box Office

Gross:

$408,839 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shortly after the film's release, Jacques "Jacko" Razona, a Jewish boxer from Salonika, sued the real life Salamo Arouch and the producers for $20,000,000 (US). Razona claimed that they had stolen his story, and that Arouch had grossly exaggerated his exploits. The case was later settled out of court. See more »

Goofs

The movie shows the end phase of life in Auschwitz and the forced death march as the camp is evacuated. Salamo Arouch is sent to work in the Sonderkomando in the crematorium where suddenly he witnesses the uprising and destruction of what is clearly crematorium II or III. In reality, the uprising occurred in October 1944, months before the evacuation. The SS dismantled the crematoriums over the preceding months and the forced death march evacuations occurred in late January. (In addition, the evacuation occurred in the middle of winter, the movie shows a nice sunny day, where in reality there would have been snow on the ground.) See more »

Quotes

Gypsy: Listen, I'm only going to say this once. For those who can hear me tell the rest. First come the SS, our lord and masters. Then comes our block health manager, Kyr. Then come the assistants, Otto and me. Then come the rats. Then come the lice... and then come you.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Worth A Place Of Honour On Any List Of Holocaust Films
14 July 2015 | by (Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

Somehow, in thinking of the horrors of the Holocaust, thoughts of Greece do not spring readily to mind. And yet, obviously there were Jews in Greece, and many were interned after the Nazis occupied Greece in 1941. "Triumph Of The Spirit" follows the story of Salamo Arouch, a Greek champion boxer who is among those sent to Auschwitz.

Arouch's story is interesting. He uses boxing as a way of staying alive

  • fighting other prisoners for the entertainment of Nazi officers and


officials, knowing full well that those he defeats are destined almost certainly for execution - and that the same fate awaited him if he were to lose. The movie is rife with reflection on collaboration. The Sonderkommandos (Jews who actively worked with the Nazis in exchange for privileges which included perhaps a few extra months of life) are front and centre in this, and we see various internees doing various things to placate the Nazis, to earn favour with them - and, in the circumstances, who can blame them. They were uprooted from often comfortable lives and placed almost literally into hell. Defiance might have been the more noble choice, but some form of collaboration was more practical. But the choice was never easy, and consciences were surely wounded as those decisions were made. Arouch was played by Willem Defoe - not my favourite actor, but he handled the part quite well. Some license was taken with his story, as is almost always the case when a story "based on fact" is portrayed, but basically from what I've been able to learn the broad sweep of Arouch's story is told. Really, though, Arouch fades into the background in this - or, at least, he did for me.

It was the sheer brutality of Auschwitz and of Nazism that was the engine driving this movie forward. It's a realistic and gripping portrayal of the conditions in the camp - all under the slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" - "work makes free" - the slogan that appeared over the gates entering Auschwitz. It makes what happened inside the camp sound almost noble, but there was nothing noble about the type of work done in Auschwitz, and it had nothing to do with freedom. That was made very clear throughout this film. It was, perhaps, the closest thing to hell that any of the inmates could have possibly imagined. Many died, and those who survived were scarred for life, left empty by the experience. The last scene, I thought, portrayed this quite hauntingly, as Arouch - who survived - wanders lost and aimless away from the camp after liberation, not knowing where he was going or what he would find. His story has a "happy" ending filled with marriage and children and grandchildren, but how happy could it have really been, all things considered.

This isn't the best movie about the Holocaust ever made, but it is one that stays with the viewer, and it's one that provides a gripping portrayal of life inside perhaps the most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps. (8/10)


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