Romek is a Polish railway worker and Guido is a German soldier. They are both 17, in love with jazz and the same pretty girl. But it's 1943 somewhere in Nazi-occupied Poland, and their lives are bound to change soon.
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Ingrid van Bergen
Poland, 1943. Four young characters are connected through a series of unusual events: ROMEK, a Polish boy from the village in which action takes place; GUIDO, a German soldier serving in the village during occupation; FRANKA, the daughter of a well-to-do local farmer; and BUNIA, a Jewish girl that escaped from a train on its way to a death camp. Each of them come across something that at the time is simultaneously a danger to and escape from their harsh reality: love. Will they be able to hold on to their dreams while facing the horrors of their day and uncertainty of future?
Bez sladu twa wielka mitosc minie
Performed by Wiera Gran See more »
Disturbing revisionism?!? Oh my...
I just watched the film and feel that I have to react to the review by hof-4, who, unfortunately, got just about everything wrong and perceived it as anti-Polish and pro German revisionism written and directed by a Pole (a bizarre thought to start with, right?). Here a few corrections:
1. "The German soldiers apparently live in bucolic harmony with the locals and are depicted as rather nice fellows; in their first scene they devoutly thank the Lord for the meal they are about to receive. Some are bumbling, cute incompetents in the mold of the TV Nazis in Hogan's Heroes."
We do not see many people in the film. Of the Polish locals, one is killed by what you called "a nice fellow". They also kill two people they find in the woods. Probably that is jews though. So I will get back to that later.
As for the German soldiers, we get to know three of them a little more. The ruthless Oberleutnant, who personally kills two people (the supposed jews) and has people murdering three more, including burning a woman with a baby. Then we have Odi. Who does not seem like a killing machine but wants to do his job in order to not get into trouble. And to be able to see his wife and kid again. Then we have Guido, who is the only one not functioning. Who at too young age is at the front because he was caught listening to Jazz at home. The "bumbling cute incompent". Do you serioulsy think that no one like that can have existed? The no German soldiers had any doubts about atrocities? To depict that would have been wildy inacurate stereoptypes. Many were traumatised by these things as well. Anyway, back to the film.
All the others (like the Feldwebel), we just know that they do what they have to do. The former Oberleutnant apparently was a drunk (it is mentioned) who did not made the whole thing seem a bit like a holiday. Nevertheless, we do get to know that these soldiers did kill jews on patrol even then.
So what did you want to see? None of the Germans you see are depicted as innocent. They kill people. And if you think that all German soldiers were just fanatic killing machines you are wrong. Many also were like Odi - they did as they were told, even when it came to killing Jews and civilians. Which does not make them innocent. That is how war works. And no, the film does not indicate that all but one are nice blokes. You have three types: The fanatic, the one following orders and the one not wanting to follow orders but still doing it (Guido kills three people). About the rest of the German soldiers it's all speculation. We know they killed Jews before. Not much more. The Feldwebel screams at Guido and Odi. But we do not know him either.
2. "This implicitly perpetuates the canard that only the SS death squads, not the Wehrmacht itself were responsible for atrocities against civilians in Poland and other Eastern European countries."
Nonsense. We see six jews in the film. Five of them are killed. Two are shot, a mother with a baby is burned alive. So much about "nice people". Another one dies by the river (he had jumped off the death train). Only the sixth one is lucky. We also get to know that one Polish man wanted to help two jews but he was too late - they were shot by these nice German soldiers patrolling.
Also, the death camp is close. Trains must have arrived recently. Clothes can still be found. And we get to see four jews (or two, in case the two shot in the woods were Polish civilians) who were on the run.
3. "Partisans are depicted as murderous psychopathic interlopers."
Where did see you these? The girl Bunia is a jew, not a partisan. Neither is she a psychopath. She lost her family. But I guess you mean the Soviets in the end. No partisans. You got something wrong here.
4. "...and such nagging questions as summary execution of civilians for partisan actions (or for any other reason) are glossed over or attributed to a single Nazi officer straight out of Hollywood Central Casting, Department Bad Nazis."
It's a 90 mins film. It won't tell whole story of WWII in Poland. About partisans there is nothing. We only see a very limited amount of people in the film, which tells the story of mainly three people. Polish civilians we see about 10. Of them, it is one being shot. Or three, if the two in the woods are Polish who just happened to be at the wrong place. Romek is lucky he makes it.
5. "In one of the first scenes a Pole voices his approval of the murder of Jews. Yes, there were many antisemitic Poles, but there were also many that protected, assisted and in many cases saved fugitive Jews. And, at any rate, Polish Jews were murdered by Germans, not by Poles. Auschwitz was planned, staffed and run by Germans."
Then you should also remember that in the beginning Leon mentions Poles hiding Jews. Plus, Romek helps Bunia. Plus Karpiuk helps hiding Bunia. And we get to know that he tried to help others before. And you reduce the message of the film to one Pole voicing his approval of the murder of Jews? You have to be kidding me. About the film making clear who killed Jews, go back to point 2.
What I find disturbing is that you did not understand the film. Many things you missed, other things you got wrong.
I suggest you watch it again. Perhaps then you can understand how a Polish writer and director could make such a film. A film that is not revisionist at all.
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