In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German ...
See full summary »
In 1944 Poland, a Jewish shop keeper named Jakob is summoned to ghetto headquarters after being caught out near curfew. While waiting for the German Kommondant, Jakob overhears a German radio broadcast about Russian troop movements. Returned to the ghetto, the shopkeeper shares his information with a friend and then rumors fly that there is a secret radio within the ghetto. Jakob uses the chance to spread hope throughout the ghetto by continuing to tell favorable tales of information from "his secret radio." Jakob, however, has a real secret in that he is hiding a young Jewish girl who escaped from a camp transport train. A rather uplifting and slightly humorous film about World War II Jewish Ghetto life. Written by
Anthony Hughes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the supposed SS guards is wearing a field cap with the black-red-gold insignia of the modern German military, the Bundeswehr. See more »
Hitler goes to a fortune-teller and asks, "When will I die?" And the fortune-teller replies, "On a Jewish holiday." Hitler then asks, "How do you know that?" And she replies, "Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday."
See more »
Special thanks to the city and peoples of Piotrków, Poland, the city and peoples of Lódz, Poland and the city and peoples of Budapest, Hungary. See more »
Over the years, I have found Robin Williams to be one of the most frustrating actors around. Clearly loaded with talent, in my opinion at least most of his movies have been disappointments. He either gives unnecessarily over-the-top performances that really don't fit the context, or he controls his natural comedic instincts to the point at which he comes across as uninspired. So I wasn't sure what to expect in "Jakob the Liar." What I found was a surprisingly good performance in a wonderful movie.
Williams plays Jakob Heym, confined to the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw by the Nazis during the Second World War. With hope fading, Heym accidentally discovers that Russian troops aren't far away, and begins to spread the news. Others become convinced that he has a radio hidden, and Heym's fictional "news reports" from the BBC provide enough hope to keep the residents of the Ghetto going through this dark time.
Williams (also executive producer) did a fine job as Heym. As one would expect, his character comes across as something of a comedian ("I believe we're God's Chosen People; I just wish He had chosen someone else!") but his humour is appropriate; the sort of dark humour one would expect from people in this situation. The other performances faded into the background, not because they were bad but because Williams so dominated the movie. Special mention should go to Justus von Dohnanyi, though, who played the Nazi Commandant "Preuss." Dohnanyi manages to capture exactly the sort of slimy, inhuman character one would expect to be put in charge of such a business. The rest of the cast (primarily Hannah Taylor-Gordon as Lina and Liev Schreiber as Mischa) are good, but overshadowed by Williams.
The character of Kirschbaum (played by Armin Mueller-Stahl) filled me with sadness and represents a clear statement of the evils of Nazism. A world-famous cardiologist, Kirschbaum, because he is Jewish, is forbidden to practice medicine, and ends up cleaning toilets. Mueller-Stahl plays the character with a quiet dignity, and next to Williams is the clear highlight of the movie.
This movie represents a wonderful testimony to the importance of hope in helping people see themselves through what must seem to be impossible situations. Although fictional, it is an important movie for those with an interest in the events of this era.
27 of 30 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?