The film follows a Jewish family living in Hungary through three generations, rising from humble beginnings to positions of wealth and power in the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire. The patriarch becomes a prominent judge but is torn when his government sanctions anti-Jewish persecutions. His son converts to Christianity to advance his career as a champion fencer and Olympic hero, but is caught up in the Holocaust. Finally, the grandson, after surviving war, revolution, loss and betrayal, realizes that his ultimate allegiance must be to himself and his heritage.Written by
Schindler's List was apparently enough for most film goers. "Sunshine," superior to "Schindler" in many respects, got fewer accolades and much less attention. Why do I think "Sunshine" is superior to "Schindler?" Primarily because it tells the story of the Holocaust through the lens of a single family whose pre-Holocaust history gives a dimension and depth to the tragedy of that family that "Schlinder" is incapable of providing because of its quite different narrative strategy and focus. To be sure, "Schindler's" narrative sweep affords a greater sense than "Sunshine" of the scope of the slaughter. But "Sunshine" stands in relation to "Schindler" as a novel stands to a work of history. One brings the insights offered by individual tragedies, the other brings more of a societal perspective. The best "Holocaust" film, however, remains in this viewer's opinion, "The Pawnbroker" with Rod Stieger, which had an even narrower focus than "Sunshine" and brought the horror of the Holocaust to life by exploring the emotional desolation/death suffered by a single survivor. A truly great film.
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