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Saviors in the Night (2009)
"Unter Bauern" (original title)

6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 192 users  
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Based on the memories of Marga Spiegel. In her narrative, published in 1965, she describes how courageous farmers in southern Munsterland hid her, her husband Siegfried and their little ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Lia Hoensbroech ...
Anni Aschoff
Martin Horn ...
Heinrich Aschoff
Margarita Broich ...
Frau Aschoff
Luisa Mix ...
Tjard Krusius ...
Kilian Schüler ...
...
Klemens Aschoff
Veit Stübner ...
Pentrop
Daniel Flieger ...
Erich Reimann
...
Josefa Schwester
Anna Ehrichlandwehr ...
Großmutter Aschoff
Smadi Wolfman ...
Frau Albermann
Lina Beckmann ...
Paula Wacker
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Storyline

Based on the memories of Marga Spiegel. In her narrative, published in 1965, she describes how courageous farmers in southern Munsterland hid her, her husband Siegfried and their little daughter Karin from 1943 until 1945, thus saving them from deportation to the extermination camps in the East.. Without reservation, the farmers offer the refugees their protection. That this turns them into heroes would never occur to them. They are used to weathering even dangerous situations somehow, guided only by their instinct and century-old code of ethics. They risk their own lives, and, if necessary, even that of their families. There is never a discussion about friendship, reliability, humanity. Written by Menemsha Films

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Drama | History

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16 December 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bein Ikarim  »

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1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
A tale of civic courage among ordinary folk.
22 February 2011 | by (Switzerland) – See all my reviews

Forget Schindler's List, which was over-produced, over-acted, over-directed, over- everything. The horror of Nazism cannot be grasped in its enormity; it can only be filmed from the perspective of a very small group of ordinary people, and that is what this film does, very effectively.

The country which decorated a young man, Siegmund Spiegel ( Armin Rohde), in WWI is now determined to exterminate him, his wife and child, and everyone of his 'kind' it can lay hands on. A former comrade-in-arms, named Aschoff, offers to shelter him and his family on his farm in a rural community, at considerable personal risk. Spiegel's wife (Veronica Ferres) and child, who can 'pass' as Aryan, assume new identities (the name Spiegel would have been a deadly give-away of Jewishness) and may move about relatively freely on the farm, but the husband/father, who looks Jewish, must stay hidden away in a barn--for years. He can catch fleeting glimpses of his family in the farmyard as they go to work in the fields with the farmer's family and the field hands. Times are hard, food is scarce, the winters bitterly cold. Some members of the community come to know of the hideaways and help in small ways-- providing an extra scrap of food or a convenient lie when Nazi sleuths pass through hunting for Jews hiding out. Both the Jewish family and their hosts are far from safe, as some members of the community, including some of the local farm hands, are Nazi sympathizers. The penalty, of course, is death if they are discovered.

Another father and son find themselves on opposite sides of the ideological divide, and neither one will survive to the credits. It is forbidden to listen to foreign radio broadcasts (the BBC World Service, for example, reporting the inexorable advance of the Allies and the true state of the German Wehrmacht). The moment of dawning realization as the farmer's daughter learns the true identities of their guests, and the danger when a young Nazi brown-shirt begins to court her; the Star of David patch (which she had long ago tucked away and forgotten about) falling out of Frau Spiegel's pocket at the most inopportune moment in the pub ... these and a thousand other minutely drawn details fill out the picture of creeping desperation for the family and their protectors. The slightest slip would prove fatal. It is an utterly convincing tale of how paranoia and terror grip a community, how fear and intimidation paralyze people. It is also largely true; based on the memoir of the woman who was sheltered by that farmer's family (yes, they survived the war; you'll meet the real Marga Spiegel and the farmer's wife, Frau Aschoff, in the DVD's special features section).

The ultimate insult is when the Americans march in and the poor half-deranged father is finally allowed out of the barn, his head shaved (to keep down the lice)--and the American soldiers accuse him of being a Nazi. The iron cross, awarded him in WWI and which he had hoarded to show to Nazi sleuths as proof of his loyalty to the Fatherland, is suddenly damning evidence. The farmers, who had successfully hidden him from the Nazis for years, are powerless to prevent the 'liberators' from dragging him out to shoot him. If that doesn't make rage rise in your throat, you're catatonic.

The film has a gritty, Steinbeckian realism about it. The pacing is deliberate and methodical, unlike Schindler's List which was a deliberately manipulative (and exhausting) emotional roller-coaster. Don't expect cinematic fireworks from Unter Bauern; but you may not be able to sleep afterwords. The cinematography is subduedly realistic and shows what it must have been like in rural war-time Germany: mucky, cold, poor, and hungry. The cast is superb, delivering utterly convincing performances.

My only criticism is not of the film as such but merely of the title, "Saviors in the Night", for English-speaking audiences, obviously to make it 'marketable'. "Among Farmers" would be literally correct and renders the tone of the film perfectly adequately.

The film's message, conveyed in straightforward narrative without having to browbeat it into you, is this: civic courage does not require superhuman dimensions (which is how Liam Neeson's character was directed to be in S.L.). All it requires is for decent folk to do what is right. What this film shows, brilliantly, is how hard that is sometimes.


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