7.4/10
2,333
35 user 11 critic

Playing for Time (1980)

Female prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp (Auschwitz) are spared from death in return for performing music for their captors.

Directors:

Daniel Mann, Joseph Sargent (uncredited)

Writers:

Arthur Miller, Fania Fénelon (autobiography: "The Musicians of Auschwitz")
Reviews
Popularity
3,989
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vanessa Redgrave ... Fania Fenelon
Jane Alexander ... Alma Rose
Maud Adams ... Mala
Christine Baranski ... Olga
Robin Bartlett ... Etalina
Marisa Berenson ... Elzvieta
Verna Bloom ... Paulette
Donna Haley Donna Haley ... Katrina
Lenore Harris ... Charlotte
Mady Kaplan ... Varya
Will Lee ... Shmuel
Anna Thomson ... Michou (as Anna Levine)
Viveca Lindfors ... Frau Schmidt
Melanie Mayron ... Marianne
Marcell Rosenblatt Marcell Rosenblatt ... Giselle
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Storyline

In World War II, the Jewish French musician and cabaret singer Fania Fenelon Goldstein is sent by the Nazis from Paris to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The guards take her clothing and luggage and they cut her hair very short. One day, when she is very weak, she hears someone asking whether any prisoner could sing Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly and she joins the group of musicians that have been spared from the gas chambers to entertain the Nazis performing music for them. She convinces the conductor Alma Rose to invite her friend Marianne, telling that she would be a talented singer. Along the years of abusive treatment, they survive but losing their dignity. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite controversy and attempted boycotts, the 3 hour film was the highest viewed program of the week, with 20.4 million American homes watching its debut. See more »

Goofs

Fania Fenelon was sent to Bergen Belson with some of the other Jewish members of the orchestra prior to the liberation of Auschwitz. She was still in Bergen Belson when it was liberated by British troops. See more »

Quotes

Alma Rose: We must constantly raise the level of our playing, or I really don't know how long they will tolerate us.
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Connections

Referenced in Northern Exposure: Nothing's Perfect (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Yossel, Yossel
(uncredited)
Written by Nellie Casman and Samuel Steinberg
See more »

User Reviews

 
One of the best movies I've ever seen about the struggle for humanity.
6 September 1999 | by rondineSee all my reviews

This is a wonderful, powerful and very moving picture. This is one of the best WWII films surrounding the victims of the Holocaust. The dialog and acting throughout is superb! I too am aware that the Jewish Defense League didn't want Vanessa Redgrave playing the main character for political reasons. There should be NO politics in acting, just the right actors for the right roles. Ms. Redgrave is definately the right person for the role. I don't know all about her personal politics and don't care when it comes to seeing a movie like this one. Her commitment to this role is absolutely mesmerizing. I even heard that in addition to shaving her head for the role, she used a safety pin to injure her lip instead of just letting the makeup people fake something. She bares her soul in a way that few actors can. Jane Alexander is also very worthy as the Director of the orchestra that Fania(Redgrave) is a part of. If you get a chance to see this on tv, don't miss it. I am fortunate to have taped it when it originally aired. Some video stores may also have a copy. Remembering the past is a way to make sure it is never repeated- if you see this movie, it will be one more vivid memory of why we should never forget.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

30 September 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Playing for Time See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Szygzy Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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