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One has to be annoyed with comments that question either the historical
verisimilitude or the integrity of this film, whether from the shaky ground
of some rigid, illiberal ideological or religious prejudice or from some
one-sided version of history. Furthermore, negative ad hominem attacks on
someone other than political leaders or other persons who willingly seek out
the public eye are reprehensible.
Does this story ring true? It does to me, and if there is even one-tenth as much basis in fact in the life of Salomon Perel as is represented in the film, I am satisfied. Having been to all the places and delved into the culture and history of all the nationalities that comprise its background, I am also convinced that much if not all of the story is correct at a level that goes well beyond whether this or that small factual detail is rooted in what actually happened to the real Perel.
Moreover, "Hitlerjunge Salomon" (better known in English-speaking countries as "Europa, Europa") is a masterful piece of cinema, beautifully produced and directed, and bearing a cachet of authenticity that few cross-cultural films achieve. I can attest to the utterly convincing script and characterization within the German language portion, and the bits in Polish and Russian seem equally strong.
Why is it so difficult to believe that a malleable teenager raised in a cross-cultural environment would be any less rooted in one part of his life than another? Marco Hofschneider captures precisely the right tone as he demonstrates how "Solly" and "Jupp" are two complementary aspects of the same person. Indeed, there are even good Germans and bad Germans, good Poles and bad Poles, etc., etc. throughout the film.
None of this compromises the truth that millions of other Jews did not survive the Holocaust. Nor does it demean their memory to cast a glance or two at this singular exception. The survivors have their stories as do the victims, and to explore the wider spectrum of life that goes on is surely to find hope in the ruins of an otherwise depraved episode in world history.
OK, I saw "Europa, Europa" in the theater for the first time about 7 or 8
years ago. I always thought it was an amazing story about a young Jewish
boy-man who survives WW2 masquerading as a Hitler-Jugend. I was moved to
tears at the end of the story (but I won't give away how it ends). Anyway
comparisons to Schindler's List and other movies are inevitable.
But I was so intrigued by Solomon Perel's story that I checked the book "Europa, Europa" out of the library and read it for myself. Now having read the book, I watched the movie again and I can tell you that many facts and details of Solly's life were changed to make the movie more dramatic and concise. "Europa, Europa" the movie was not in anyway described as a documentary, so you can take the dramatic moments with a grain of salt. They rewrote most of it in the process of making the movie. I don't know if these alterations were done with Perel's knowledge or permission. But he is shown at the end of the film, so he must have known that the movie was being made. All I can say is, the real truth is even more amazing than the fiction. Read the book for yourself and see what I mean!
This story is made even more amazing since it is based on fact. The real
Solomon Perel has quite a story to tell. I have also read the book, and
movie is a bit factually inaccurate, but it is still tremendously
Young Solly is played by a beautiful young actor named Marco Hoffschneider. His good looks and charm are part of what get him to convince the Gestapo that he is not a Jew, but an ethnic German. But Solly has much more getting him through this ordeal. His determination and strength of spirit, plus blinding will to live, and perhaps the youthful exuberance of being able to accomplish it, help him to pull off the charade. The young boy speaks several languages, and is able to use this skill to convince Nazi soldiers that he is not Jewish. The soldiers adopt him as a sort of "mascot." Solly is careful not to show his circumcised penis to anyone, including the German girl he falls in love with. Fate is also on his side, since several times when it seemed he might be found out, the hand of a higher power intervenes.
This is an engrossing film, sad and funny. Perhaps Solomon Perel is ashamed that he lived with the enemy to save his life, but, he is alive today to tell his story. The real Solomon Perel makes a brief appearance at the end.
Europa, Europa by Agnieszka Holland is a very interesting film. It addresses
how far people would go to stay alive. Caught in the hostile warfare, a
Jewish boy Solomon Perel realizes that the only way he can survive is by
pretending to be one of the Nazis. I was very surprised when I found out
that this was a true story. For someone to go through such an horrible
experience for so many years and stay normal, its just something I found
very fascinating. This movie made me realize that one can never say "I would
never do this or that". When you are put in a situation where the only two
options you have are survival or death, there is no doubt that most of us
would do anything to survive. Even that what Solomon did himself. As I
watched this film I thought about the war I have experienced. There were so
many people that would have done anything to survive. Actually, there were
many instances where people surrendered and joined the other side, just to
stay alive or save their family. I know of a girl that got married with a
guy (her enemy basically) just to stay alive. What sets this movie apart is
that this a true story and the person that is depicted in this film is still
Great movie. Must See.
When, this summer, I saw "Saving Private Ryan", I was immediately reminded of this film. Using the same kind of camera angles that got Spielberg praise in "Ryan", we see the hollowness of the war-torn psyche and the brutality that emerges in people during warfare. We see hideous indoctrination that the German youth were subjected to, giving them depth beyond a few simple lines. Most of all, however, we see the absurdity inherent in such a large scale, world-shattering conflict. The film communicates its message with a clarity that makes one almost uneasy. As good as "Ryan" was, this is better.
This has absolutely got to be one of the best movies dealing not only with World War II, but also with the Holocaust. It tells a most incredible and almost unbelievable story with so many amazing twists of fate for young Solomon Perel. It is one of the few films that I feel puts a very personal face on what it was like during WW II. If you know German you will find the actual German dialogue to be particularly fascinating, especially the scenes in the elite Hitler Jugend school. The line where he says, "I was very confused..." is the understatement of any film ever made. I consider this film a "MUST SEE" if you are a member of the human race. If you are a student of German or of German history, then it is even more than a "MUST SEE"!
I have seen many foreign films but Europa Europa ranks really high.
It is the real-life story of a young Jewish man who escapes persecution from the Nazis by masquerading as one. He soon wins the minds and hearts of the Germans he serves with. Some discover his true ethnicity but still help him since he is so likable. He even wins the hearts of some women who fall hard for the likable Josef Peters( the name he takes to pass as a non-Jew Aryan) He becomes so well liked that even his commander wants to adopt him .He goes on to excel in a school for the Hitler Youth and again becomes popular among both his fellow students and teachers. He goes to great lengths to pass as a non-Jew , and many of his methods to achieve that end truly are unorthodox.
The beautiful Julie Delpy plays a young German girl who's taken by this young man. She however is a fanatical Nazi and the relationship takes on a life of it's own.
This film is a must see for those of us who are unrepentant movie buffs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland (writer and director) put together an
outstanding film based on a true story about a Jewish boy who pretended
to be Russian and German to avoid capture before embracing his
Jewishness at the moment his life was about to end.
Marco Hofschneider in his first film was absolutely amazing and you could feel the constant tension that he suffered in trying to hide. To actually get into the Hitler Youth Academy and fall in love with a pure German girl (Julie Delpy) made his predicament all the more exciting.
It was also funny seeing him used as an example of an excellent Aryan by the supposedly "scientific" teacher at the school.
This is one for your collection.
The print that I saw of this film was stunning. Come to think of it, every aspect of this film was well though out, excellently executed, and just as stunning. And just like any other film that deals with the plight of the Jewish people during WWII, this is not a feel good film that will have you wanting to watch it again and again. Very well made and well acted film.
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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