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Srulik, an eight-year-old boy, flees from the Warsaw ghetto in 1942. He attempts to survive, at first alone in the forest, and then as a Christian orphan named Jurek on a Polish farm. Throughout his ordeal, his Jewish identity is in danger of being lost. The story is based on the bestseller by Uri Orlev. Written by
Haunting WWII survival drama with serious religious undercurrents
"Run, Boy, Run" (2013 release from Germany/Poland; 113 min.; original title "Lauf, Junge, Lauf") brings the fictional story of a young Jewish boy in Poland. As the movie opens, we are told that it is "Winter 1942/43" and we see a boy wondering the harsh and snowy countryside, barely surviving. Eventually he gets taken in by a catholic woman, who decides that in order for the boy to survive, he needs to assimilate into becoming a 'regular' Polish (read: catholic) boy, sporting a Polish name (Jurek, instead of Srulik). When things eventually gets too risky, with the German occupation forces becoming ever more intrusive, she has no choice but to send the boy away, and he must look for new shelter. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first, the movie is based on the acclaimed (and prize winning) novel of the same name by Uri Orlev in the early 2000s. Given the topic of the novel, and the acclaim it got, it's surprising in a way that it took this long for it to be adapted for the big screen. Second, this is not an easy movie to watch, as the young boy encounters his share of troubles, and then some. Just when you think it can't get any more challenging, it does! Of course it makes for dramatic cinema. Third, apart the immediate challenges of the day-to-say survival of the boy, there are some further serious undertones as to the boy's Jewish identity: if you 'study' to act like a catholic in order to survive, and you live and breathe Catholicism, does a person's Jewish identity become endangered at some point? Fourth, special kudos to the movie's photography, as the forests and countryside look absolutely beautiful, both in winter and in summer time. Last but not least, the movie features a gorgeous orchestral soundtrack, composed by Stéphane Moucha.
Bottom line: "Run, Boy, Run" is not exactly the type of movie that makes you think 'that was a jolly good time!" as you leave the theater. But it IS a movie that will stay with you long afterwards. And the young boy who plays the Srulik/Jurek character is fantastic. I saw this movie recently at the 2014 Jewish & Israeli Film Festival (Summer Series) here in Cincinnati, and the screening was very well attended. I certainly hope that this will get a proper DVD release in the US. "Run, Boy, Run" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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