Kapo is a black and white film that tells the story of a Jewish teenager sent to a concentration camp together with her parents. She manages to survive with the help of a Jewish doctor who gives her the identity of another woman who had died recently. Thus, Edith becomes Nicole and she is no longer a Jew, at least not in the papers. At first she is very sad about her parents' death but as time passed she realized she had to get out of that mood if she wanted to survive. So, she accepts an affair with a German officer even if she is only 14 and she starts getting privileges, becoming with time a Kapo, one of the women prisoners who were in charge with disciplining the other women. She knows it's the only way to survive but same time she lives in deep remorse even though she never shows any feelings.Written by
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, released as an "Essential Art House". See more »
In the opening scene, Edith walks past some shops on her way back home. One of the shops look like it belongs to the booming 1950s than the more austere WWII period. There is a toy car or baby push car in the store window that shows the typical car design of the 1950s. See more »
This Italian film, following the travails of a young Jewish girl in a Nazi work camp, is successful due mainly to its realistic sets, and the performances of Strasberg and Terzieff. Supporting cast members also shine throughout the film. The whole concept of the "kapo" is new to me, and it added a further dimension to the horrific Nazi experience not covered in films such as "Sophie's Choice" and "The Pianist." Deservedly, it was nominated for an Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film) in 1960. Strangely enough, most filmographies of Strasberg fail to highlight her incredible performance in this film. Certainly, it must have reflected her performance as Anne Frank on Broadway. The same year as "Kapo," George Stevens released his film version of "Anne Frank," starring Millie Perkins, who took the role once Audrey Hepburn turned it down. Certainly, Strasberg must have been considered.
A "kapo" was a prisoner of a concentration camp that watched over the other prisoners in a specified group. A kapo received better clothing, food, and was not required to work. 2001's "The Grey Zone" would be an appropriate double-feature with this film.
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