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The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009)

The story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who was part of the Polish underground during World War II and was arrested by the Nazis for saving the lives of nearly 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto.



, (as Lawrence John Spagnola) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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95-year-old Polish heroine Irena Sendler tells the unknown story of a conspiracy of women who outwitted the Nazis and rescued thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.

Director: Mary Skinner
Stars: Irena Sendlerowa, Jan Becker


Cast overview, first billed only:
Janina Krzyzanowska
Stefan Zgrzembski
Dr. Majkowski
Monsignor Godlewski
Ewa Rozenfeld
Hanna Rozenfeld
Jakub Rozenfeld
Rebecca Windheim ...
Karolina Rozenfeld
Olga Boladz ...
Leigh Lawson ...
Rabbi Rozenfeld
Michal Laski


The story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who was part of the Polish underground during World War II and was arrested by the Nazis for saving the lives of nearly 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | War


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Release Date:

19 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (#58.3)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film's opening prologue states: "World War II rages through Europe. In occupied Poland, the Germans have established the Warsaw Ghetto for all the Jewish residents of the city. Over 440,000 Jews are forced inside its walls . . . There are some Poles who want to help . . . " See more »


Karolina Rozenfeld: Why do I have to be a Jew?
Irena Sendler [owa]: You were born into the Jewish faith.
Karolina Rozenfeld: What if I want to be something else? I don't like being hated by everybody.
Irena Sendler [owa]: Everybody does not hate you.
Karolina Rozenfeld: Yes they do. You know it's true. What did we ever do? It's not fair.
Irena Sendler [owa]: No, It's not.
See more »


Edited into Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

Hollywoodisation of European history
2 October 2009 | by (Latvia) – See all my reviews

I watched this film last night at its Latvian premiere. It was a relatively big event owing to the fact that it was the first ever Hollywood production shot entirely on location in Riga. The film's theme is without any doubt an important one and the real life Irena Sendler definitely deserves to have a film made about her life. I'm just not sure that this was the film It is, of course, one thing that they shot the film in Riga, Latvia and not in Poland. Before the screening, one of the producers claimed that it was no longer possible to make a film about the Warsaw ghetto in Warsaw since everything had been destroyed during the war. That may be true, still others have managed. I understand that this film has been made for the American audiences who wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Madrid and Reykjavik but let's be honest, it didn't actually feel very Warsawy. Riga went through similar events during WWII, so the events depicted in this film didn't feel inaccurate against the actual background of the city of Riga but it just wasn't Poland.

However, that wasn't the biggest problem. Mediocre and unconvincing acting aside, everyone not only spoke broken English (plus they had public signs in English!!!) but they also spoke the way Americans do in Hollywood productions - I love you, son - I love, daddy. Excuse me but no one actually speaks with each other like this in real life in Poland, Latvia or anywhere else really for that matter. And what was it all about with this sudden outburst of cautious randiness in the closet? Yes, of course, we need a bit of fully clothed and well-tempered romance to make the Hollywood mission complete.

In many ways, this film tried to be Schindler's List. They even put some real life footage of Irena Sendler at the end of the film, just like they did it in Spielberg's film. But both these films, while touching upon very serious and important matters, flop entirely in terms of authenticity and believability. In other words, cheap Hollywoodisation of European history.

18 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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