6.4/10
761
21 user 6 critic

Varian's War (2001)

Trailer
1:31 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

Varian Fry rescues more than 2,000 artists from Nazi persecution during World War II.

Director:

Lionel Chetwynd

Writer:

Lionel Chetwynd
Reviews
2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Resistance (2003)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

On 16 January 1944, a reconnaissance pilot survives a plane crash in Delahaut in the Nazi occupied Belgium. The boy Jean Benoit finds the wounded pilot and brings him to the house of Claire... See full summary »

Director: Todd Komarnicki
Stars: Bill Paxton, Julia Ormond, Philippe Volter
Distant Drums (1951)
Action | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

After destroying a Seminole fort, American soldiers and their rescued companions must face the dangerous Everglades and hostile Indians in order to reach safety.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: Gary Cooper, Mari Aldon, Richard Webb
Captives (1994)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A beautiful young dentist (Ormond) working in a tough British prison starts to become attracted to a violent inmate (Roth) after the break-up of her marriage, and embarks upon an illicit ... See full summary »

Director: Angela Pope
Stars: Julia Ormond, Tim Roth, Keith Allen
The Green (2011)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Michael Gavin and his partner Daniel trade the rat race of New York City for the idyllic charm of the Connecticut shoreline, with hopes of a simpler life and time for Michael to finish his ... See full summary »

Director: Steven Williford
Stars: Jason Butler Harner, Cheyenne Jackson, Illeana Douglas
The Prime Gig (2000)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A telesales con man finds the ultimate racket, but starting an affair with the girlfriend of his guru-like boss might be the wrong call.

Director: Gregory Mosher
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Julia Ormond, Ed Harris
Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Douglas is a foreign entrepreneur, who ventures to Russia in 1885 with dreams of selling a new, experimental steam-driven timber harvester in the wilds of Siberia. Jane is his assistant, ... See full summary »

Director: Nikita Mikhalkov
Stars: Julia Ormond, Oleg Menshikov, Aleksey Petrenko
The Sinking of the Laconia (TV Mini-Series 2010)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Documentary telling the true story of the sinking of the liner Laconia by a German U-boat in 1942 through the eyes of six survivors.

Stars: Andrew Buchan, Ken Duken, Franka Potente
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Hurt ... Varian Fry
Howard Ryshpan ... Konditerei Owner
Carol Shamy Carol Shamy ... The Owner's Wife
Harald Winter Harald Winter ... First Brownshirt
Susan Almgren Susan Almgren ... Eileen Fry (as Susie Almgren)
Barry Blake Barry Blake ... Drury
Noel Burton Noel Burton ... Thompson
Emma Campbell ... Clifton's Girl
Ian Finlay Ian Finlay ... Ballroom Man 1
Maitreya Friedman Maitreya Friedman ... Ballroom Woman (as Maitreya Frieman)
Alain Goulem ... Clifton
Christopher B. MacCabe ... Ballroom Man 2 (as Christopher Maccabe)
Walter Massey Walter Massey ... Sydney
Tom Rack Tom Rack ... Reinhold Neibuhr
Michael Rudder Michael Rudder ... Thomas Mann
Edit

Storyline

After witnessing the treatment of Jews in Nazi territory made him physically sick, cultured American gentleman Varian Fry starts en emergency rescue commission to raise funds and lobby to help intellectuals and artists, especially Jews, escape from Vichy France -where the Pétain government avoid occupation only by utter collaboration- to the US, and for lack of a better volunteer personally sets out in search of them. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt personally overcomes the reticence of the State Department. In Marseille he finds the people he specifically looked for, such as Marc Chagall, already housed by Harry Bingham, a Jewish US consulate official so he starts screening less obvious candidates and examines with Miriam Davenport and a German social democrat they pass for US clergyman Beamish how some can be rescued legally, others via a clandestine route, while colonel Joubert's State Police is at their trace... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He changed the world forever. One person at a time. The true story of the American Schindler.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK | USA | Canada

Language:

English | French | German | Italian

Release Date:

22 April 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Au service de la liberté See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Goofs

Near the beginning of the movie, Varian is holding the "Foreign Affairs" book differently depending on the camera angle. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Oddly undramatic telling of extraordinary story
3 March 2004 | by trpdeanSee all my reviews

The movie plods along - victim of a poor screenplay that: i) distorts terribly the real facts, ii) fails to convey the excitement and danger of the undertaking, iii) fails to address the underlying moral question of seeking to save only those who've made their names in the arts, and iv) fails to sufficiently acquaint the audience with the merits of those who escape. The best thing about the movie (as true in so many movies) is Alan Arkin's performance in a small role - he's always superb.

I've no problem with the alteration of some facts in order to make a more compelling story. Thus, the fact that Chagall and his wife did not make the trip with Werfel and Heinrich Mann but went at a different time, or that there were actually up to a dozen people working with the committee (many of them European), or that Fry hardly ever personally escorted any of the people into Spain, I see as normal poetic license.

However, to say that the Miriam Davenport character is a composite - but then to steal the name of a real person who died during the production in order to present a terribly ugly and false portrait of her, is not forgivable. From what I've read (including her journal), the real Davenport was a very young, sweet idealistic person whose fiance was trapped in Yugoslavia, not the coarse, promiscuous and tough creature given this name in the movie - (and given a fictitious physical ailment).

And to make Fry a bizarre, hesitant, effete man who affects a dandy's guise - is absurd. Again, from what I've read, the real Fry was smart, straightforward, strict, and decisive. (And he didn't die penniless, but was teaching classics at a New England prep school).

No one in the movie addresses the central moral question - why should the lives of those in the arts be more precious? The vast majority of those saved, had done their best work long before (Arendt is the obvious exception) - they weren't being saved for their future contributions so much as their past. Would it not be at least arguable that those saved should be those who were most involved in charitable works, had the greatest "heart"? Or that those saved should be those whose past indicated the most practicable help to the U.S. should it get into the war? Or that those saved should be those who had the closest family relation to American citizens? The movie's failure to address these questions - and blithe assumption that those in the arts are simply superior to the rest of us, so their very lives are more worthy of preservation - is deeply annoying.

Moreover, the movie fails to convey any sense of the value of the particular people saved. We need to know why these particular people are so important to Fry and others. Why could they not give the viewer a sense of the writing of Heinrich Mann, Feuchtwanger or Werfel? Why could they not show a single canvas of the work of Duchamps, Ernst or Chagall? Why could they not show some of the sculpture of Lipschutz? The political musings of Arendt? We need to know why these people are so critical.

This movie is dull. Those who like it on this board seem really to be responding to the idea of a movie about Fry's work - or to be (quite justly) praising what he and others in the committee did. Since the central drama of the personalities involved is so falsely presented, it's far far better to simply read about them.


8 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 21 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed