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Víctor Hugo Carrizo
Stage mime Antoine Moreau (Tom Courtenay) is compelled by the Gestapo to put on a performance for the children of Terezin, a "model" concentration camp, to convince the Red Cross observers that the camp is truly what it seems. Reluctant at first, Moreau slowly learns the true nature of the camp, including the meaning of the "transports" on which people leave. With a world-class orchestra (made up of people interned in the camp) and a cast of children, Moreau stages a show to end all shows. Written by
David Albert <email@example.com>
This is the ONLY Holocaust film that is neither maudlin nor sensational but that delivers a punch with all the impact of a Hollywood blockbuster, but none of the glitz. Don't be put off by the fact that it's a foreign film (made before Czechoslovakia had been divided in two). It doesn't have that "dubbed" quality of a lot of foreign, English-language films. The acting, direction (and a wonderfully moving score that tracks the story line)and script are all synchronized in a stunning style. In fact, the European element helps to make it far more genuine than anything that's come out of Hollywood. One gets a sense that the filmakers and the actors were really plugged in to the history of what is, after all, a real story--that of the Nazi's "City of the Jews." This was a ruse of the Nazis to "prove" to the international community that they were taking care of "their" Jews by keeping them camped in segregated communities that had all the comforts of home. Of course, in reality, there was a back door track to the concentration camps that visitors were never shown.
But again, what makes this film so special is its avoidance of any pretense. The film makers don't milk the tragedy any more than it has to be. And the evil characters are not stereotyped into cardboard cut outs. And the heroes--well, there really are none, despite some heroic acts by normal folks.
Buy this film if you can. You'll want to pass it on to your kids.
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