IMDb > Prisoner of Paradise (2002)
Prisoner of Paradise
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Prisoner of Paradise (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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Prisoner of Paradise -- Nazis force actor and filmmaker Kurt Gerron, incarcerated in a concentration camp, to make a propaganda movie.


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7.7/10   306 votes »
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Down 10% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
23 April 2011 (Japan) See more »
Documentary about Holocaust victim Kurt Gerron. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Unique, sad, and pregnant with ideas. See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order)

Ian Holm ... Narrator (voice)
Robert Lantz ... Himself (as Robby Lantz)
Eleonore Hertzberg ... Herself
Lone Koppel ... Herself (as Lone Koppel de Moos)
Renée Saint-Cyr ... Herself
Kees Brusse ... Himself
Silvia Grohs Martin ... Herself
Susanne Thaler ... Herself
Hans Margules ... Himself
Margit Silberfeld ... Herself
Jan Fischer ... Himself
Tommy Mandl ... Himself
Paul Sandfort ... Himself
Coco Schumann ... Himself
Ela Weissberger ... Herself
Salle Fischermann ... Himself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Hans Albers ... (archive footage)

Marlene Dietrich ... (archive footage)
Kurt Gerron ... Himself (archive footage)
Joseph Goebbels ... (archive footage) (as Josef Goebbels)

Adolf Hitler ... Himself (archive footage)

Peter Lorre ... Himself (archive footage)
Martin Roman ... Himself (archive footage)
Maurice Rossel ... Himself / International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegate during WWII (archive footage)
Magda Schneider ... Herself (archive footage)

Directed by
Malcolm Clarke 
Stuart Sender 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Malcolm Clarke 

Produced by
Malcolm Clarke .... producer: 3849180 Canada Inc.
Christopher Eberts .... co-executive producer
David Eberts .... co-producer
Jake Eberts .... executive producer
Jamie Gilcig .... associate producer
Marion Schmidt .... associate producer
Karl-Eberhard Schäfer .... producer (as Karl-Eberhard Schaefer)
Stuart Sender .... executive producer
Andre Singer .... co-executive producer: Café Productions (as André Singer)
Original Music by
Luc St. Pierre 
Cinematography by
Michael Hammon 
Film Editing by
Glenn Berman 
Susan Shanks 
Production Management
Pierre Thériault .... post-production supervisor
Sound Department
Pierre-Jules Audet .... supervising sound editor
Pierre Laroche .... assistant sound re-recording engineer
Martin Lemieux .... sound effects editor
Louis Molinas .... sound effects editor
Visual Effects by
Dean Lewis .... visual effects supervisor
Camera and Electrical Department
Tilman Büttner .... steadicam operator
David Eberts .... additional camera operator
Editorial Department
Mathieu Bélanger .... assistant editor
Eric Losier .... on-line editor
Marc Lussier .... colorist
Other crew
Jamie Gilcig .... researcher
Marion Schmidt .... historical researcher
Udo Happel .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Brazil:96 min | USA:96 min
Canada:PG (Ontario) | Japan:G

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
Edited from The Blue Angel (1930)See more »


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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Unique, sad, and pregnant with ideas., 18 April 2004
Author: myschrec from Moscow, Idaho

Any documentary about a successful Berlin Cabaret performer, film actor and film director is the exciting and creative world of pre-WWII Germany -- who performed with Weill, Brecht, Marlene Dietrich, etc -- would be in itself unique and fascinating. This documentary certainly fulfills that expectation. In addition, it is the sad, tragic story of how a great artist was hounded and dehumanized by the Nazis. Finally, it is the incredible story of how the Nazis coerced Kurt Gerron to direct one of its most outrageous propaganda films to try to show the world that the Terezin Concentration Camp was a paradise for Jews sent to live in the "east." The reality was that Terezin was a squalid, overcrowded transit camp -- where many died from disease -- and tens of thousands were transported to Auschwitz (and other camps) to be murdered. In the end, Gerron was coerced to face the ethical dilemna that the Nazis posed to all their prisoners: "As long as you help us, we have a reason to keep you alive -- so ... How soon do you want to die?"

Did Gerron make the film because he was selfishly trying to save himself and his family? If so ... so what? Wouldn't you have done that? On the other hand, it is even more tragic to think that Gerron probably knew that the Nazis would never let him live -- and that this was his last chance to work -- to be creative -- to be a "macher" -- to have a modicum of control over his life. Like all great artists, he did not want to produce anything less than his best. Certainly, many of the "actors" in the film were forced to pretend to be happy. On the other hand, when you see children eating bread and butter joyfully -- and you know that they would not have such food were it not for this film -- you can imagine that perhaps they were not pretending to enjoy the food. Similarly, the chorale group, the children's musical, and the symphony (performing "Study for Strings," written by Pavel Haas while he was incarcerated in Terezin) were not "pretending." They were enthusiastically displaying their love for their art and their pride of accomplishment. The Nazis should be vilified for their treatment of these artists. But the artists have nothing to be ashamed of.

The film raises more questions than it answers. And some of the answers it suggests may not be convincing. But that is another reason why this film is deeply moving and valuable.

This is an extremely well-made documentary -- excellently preserving much archival film footage. Ian Holm is an outstanding narrator. And the moments we see Gerron's acting and hear his singing are likely to encourage you to want to rent several of his films. Nominated for the 2003 Oscar -- amongst Spellbound, Winged Migration and Bowling for Columbine -- this film is further evidence that today's documentary film makers are among the best creative artists in the cinema.

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