A Jewish boy, separated from his family in the early days of WWII, poses as a German orphan and is thereafter taken into the heart of the Nazi world as a 'war hero' and eventually made a Hitler Youth. Although improbabilities and happenstance are cornerstones of the film, it is based upon a true story. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When the Russian refugees are fleeing Poland and are strafed by a German fighter plane, the fighter plane is obviously a smaller scale radio controlled model. The airplane resembles a Supermarine Spitfire, an airplane not used by the Germans. See more »
Salomon 'Solly' 'Salek' Perel:
The landowners and the bourgeois keep the people in ignorance. They encourage religious superstitions, and with the help of the popes, priests and rabbis they smother all revolutionary instinct. That's why we call religion the opium of the masses.
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I reckon 'Europa Europa' to be the best Holocaust feature film ever produced. I have been using this film for many years to teach the Holocaust to British 14-year-olds. They identify with the central character of Saloman Perel, a German-Jewish boy who survives the Holocaust by hiding his identity in ever more difficult circumstances. The film moves at a cracking pace and the music adds to the dramatic tension. A lot of difficult history is made accessible in a very entertaining and often comical way - Nazi and Communist indoctrination of the young, Jews and homosexuals as outsiders in the new Reich, the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the events of the Second World War. We have a great sense of the individual being swept along by the most destructive tide that history has yet unleashed.
The comic relief is a stark contrast to 'Schindler's List', a copy of which was donated by Spielberg to every British high school.The film is too long, slow and dark to appeal to the age group in question and I have not used it since coming across 'Europa Europa'.
Julie Delpy plays the female romantic lead as the delectable Leni, attractive but flawed, a perfect tribute to Nazi teaching methods. On the other hand there is a sympathetic portrayal of Germans who were not Nazis and who were just as much victims as the Jews. The film explores the human complexities which result when an ideology is allowed to mediate personal and social interaction. There is a lot going on in this film at many levels, but none of it detracts from the entertainment value.
Marco Hofschneider portrays Perel as a vulnerable but resourceful human being, a boy who desperately wishes to be normal in abnormal times. The adolescent quest for self-identity and self-assertion is not an easy option for a Jew on the run. This 'enforced self-denial' theme is successfully maintained throughout the film by its autobiographical format. The schizophrenic implications of being both German and Jewish during the Nazi period are well illustrated.
This film has held the attention of hundreds of 14 year-olds, without exception. Although not aimed specifically at this age-group, it strikes a particular chord with adolescents who can identify with the main character. It is a major contribution to making the Holocaust both accessible and entertaining. There should be no conflict of interest here. Just as the recent film 'Downfall' successfully 'humanises' Hitler by displaying the personal charm which he exercised over so many people, so 'Europa Europa' humanises the Holocaust by its concentration on the survival of one human being. This is its chief strength. I have never tired of watching this film.
'The Pianist' is also concerned with the survival of the individual but is a more 'static' and slightly less entertaining film. Its pace is much slower. 'Escape from Sobibor' is an excellent portrayal of how several hundred slave labourers escaped from this death camp and gives a vivid and unrelenting account of the camp system. It provides balance to the notion of Jews as passive victims. Not to be missed. The American TV series 'Holocaust' is good but long. It successfully turned the Holocaust into a soap opera lasting many hours. To my knowledge it and the 2002 film 'Amen.'contain the only re-enactments of how Zyklon-B crystals were tipped into the 'shower-room'. 'Holocaust' also shows gas chamber procedures.
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