Sunday, September 23, 2012

Film Recommendation of the Week...

In Darkness
Release Date-September 2, 2011.
Running Time-2 Hours 12 minutes. 
Polish, German, Ukrainian w/English subtitles.

Leolpold Socha was a Polish sewer maintenance worker and part-time thief who, together with fellow employee and partner-in-crime Stephan Wroblewski, saved Jews from Nazi persecution by keeping them hidden in the sewers of Lwow, Poland (after liberation became the town of Lviv in Ukraine). During the Nazi "Aktion" to clear the city of its' Jewish population, some took to the sewers.

Of the 21 Jews Socha and Wroblewski aided, 10 finally made it out alive thirteen months later. Every day was fraught with danger and the very real possibility of being caught by the Germans and Ukrainians who took an active role in the round-ups, yet these two continued throughout this ordeal to help the Jews even when they ran out of money and could no longer sustain themselves.

This film is not "Schindler's List"-far from it. It is dirty, grimy, and claustrophobic. The sewers offer no respite, and neither does the seemingly uncaring world above it. But amidst the world being turned on it's head by the National Socialist beasts from Germany, Socha and Wroblewski took incredible and incalculable risks in keeping these people alive. Unfortunately, Socha was killed shortly after the city was liberated by the Soviet Union in truck accident. But thanks to the efforts of the producers, who hail from Poland, Germany and Canada, his heroism and the heroism of all involved will never be forgotten.

The real Leolpold Socha-

Krystyna Chirowski Chigier, one of the ten survivors of the Lvov sewer-

Leopold Socha and Mudek Margulies, another of the ten survivors-

The Polish actor who plays Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz) does so with a gritty determination and incredible range that I'd be shocked if he didn't win this year's Oscar for best male actor in a foreign film. Yes, the character he protrays is no angel-he is a thief and was initially paid for aiding the Jews. But when their money ran out, he continued to risk his life. The barrier finally comes down during the day of his daughter's communion, the most intense scene of the whole film.

Absolutely the best film I've seen in quite a long time.

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