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Another Poignant View of the Holocaust from Prague
Writer Jirí Hubac and Director Matej Minac have created a fine and very different approach to the Holocaust stories of WW II - its insidious origins and relentless destruction of a beautiful Czech family - in the film 'Vsichni moji blízcí' ('All My Loved Ones'). Though the subject matter has been treated in countless films, this relating of the story of a large, happy, well adjusted family in Prague and its gradual disintegration does not dwell on atrocities of the camps but instead slowly unwinds the story of how Hitler's masterplan overtook and crushed so many innocent people.
The Silbersteins include a physician and his wife and son, a brother who is a gypsy of sorts, another brother who is a concert violinist and falls in love with a non-Jew, accepted by his family but eventually rejected by her and her family because of the pogrom, and all manner of extended family circling in the warmth of the good life in 1939. Very gradually the Nazis take over the Czech borders, not really heeded by the Silbersteins ('no one could be as mad as Hitler may seem') and gradually the evacuation and genocide of the Jews begins. Dr Silberstein is introduced to an American Nicholas Winton (Rupert Graves) who has come to Prague to save the children by providing them safe transport to America. The Silbersteins reluctantly release their son when they see that is his only hope for survival: the remainder of the family's future is doomed. The rest of the film deals primarily with the homage to Winton, showing the real man and the many of the 600 children he rescued. It is deeply moving.
The color and camera work is elegant and very much in keeping with the film's emphasis on the dignity of the Silberstein family. The acting by this Czech troupe is excellent, never cloying, always sensitive to the very human response to the black cloud of the Third Reich's Holocaust. In every way this is a film to treasure. Highly recommended. Grady Harp
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