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The Devil's Arithmetic (1999)

A 16-year-old American girl with an apathetic view towards her Jewish family history finds herself pulled through time into 1941 to a small Polish village where the Nazi have just began their genocidal propaganda.



(novel), (teleplay)
4,516 ( 137)

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3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leonore Stern
Aunt Eva
Lilo Baur ...
Nitzan Sharron ...
Kirsty McFarland ...
Rachel Roddy ...
Ieva Jackeviciute ...
Philip Rham ...
Commandant Krieger
Daniel Rausch ...
Officer Steinbach
Polina Soloveicik ...
Sarah (as Paulina Soloveicik)


This is another telling of the holocaust, but this time from the perspective of a modern teenage girl who only grudgingly accepts the Jewish traditions, but when she is asked to "open the front door" as part of the Seder feast finds herself, not unlike Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, to have entered the 1940's and has stepped into the life of a prisoner in one of the German death camps where she experiences all of its horrors firsthand. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Live to tell


Drama | Fantasy | War


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Release Date:

28 March 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La aritmética del diablo  »

Filming Locations:


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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This movie is the second movie that Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy both stared together in. The first Drop Dead Gorgeous. See more »


Leah: If you do not let me go with my child, I will kill you. I swear, I will kill you! And neither God nor the devil will stop me.
Commandant Krieger: If that is your wish, I never say no to a lady.
See more »


References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

A worthwhile Effort
4 February 2005 | by (Ile-de-France / Paris Region, France) – See all my reviews

I had read about this film on a site about time-travel movies ( my favorite type of films) and had been waiting for it to come out on DVD. This has happened in the USA, and also in the UK and Belgium. Not so in France, however, where the film is TOTALLY unknown, a strange state of affairs for a country which is only now trying to atone for its treatment of its Jewish population of 60 years ago, whereas in most other countries, all that is past history.

I have read other comments about this film and there seem to be equal amounts of negative and positive comments. For my part, I firmly come out IN FAVOUR of the film. Picture quality is excellent, so is the acting. I do have qualms on certain issues ( the camps seem too clean and too small, the Nazis don't seem evil enough ) but this is a very subjective judgement, and all really depends on what the spectator is "looking for". Obviously he/she who prefers "the more sordid and the more violent (and therefore supposedly the more realistic - though that's a question for debate ) the better" will be disappointed. True, the film is somewhat sanitized. But this shortcoming, if it can be termed as such, is secondary. I see the film not as a documentary on the holocaust, nor a piece of anti-Nazi propaganda, but rather the journey of a young lady thru time into a fantasy world where she is "taught" the importance of her heritage. Other people have made the point, which I agree on, that the film is an "efficient" way of introducing the holocaust to children who may be ignorant of it - and on that score alone justifies its' having been made.

Obviously there is a moralistic tone "you-don't-care-about-your heritage-so-I'm-going-to-teach-you-a-lesson-you-won't-forget' but beyond that it's interesting to see how the young protagonist passes from modern life and body tattoos to completely different surroundings and somehow adapts to it. It is like someone being suddenly whisked from this life, for example, blown up in an explosion, and immediately reincarnating another body in another time frame. Of course, each and every one of us would react differently to this situation, but the film on that level at least seems highly plausible though obviously no one really knows what the experience would be like.

The film then, should not be taken as a documentary on the holocaust (there are plenty of those around with far more realistic (and gruesome) pictures). But it is a journey into fantasy and will doubtless please the school of thought that maintains that one's heritage is all-important to be able to appreciate one's life today.

The fact that in 2005 we are commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the camps of death may have something to to with this film suddenly being issued on DVD in a certain number of countries.

17 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Not an appropriate movie to be made kedem524
Apropriate for fourth grade? lhogan1
A subject which should never be forgotten--but not this movie vgs1895
Other Holocaust Books A_Bob
Object in Haircutting Scene Storygurl86
great movie! stientjuh
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