In 2005, the United Nations declared January 27th (the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau) to be International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It may seem counter-intuitive to some to want to remember one of the most horrific events in human history. But survivors of those dark atrocities have always warned “lest we forget”, so that such evil is not repeated. Many filmmakers have taken up this clarion call and produced fiction and non-fiction movies that recount the horrors of the Nazis. These 8 films celebrate life, hope and love amidst terrible cruelty and are as truly inspiring as the Holocaust was terrible.
THE PIANIST (2002)
Roman Polanski’s gritty film about the Warsaw ghetto is a film that’s gut-wrenchingly affecting. Adrien Brody is exceptional as Wladysaw Szpilman, a talented musician who struggles to survive in the ghettos and elude extradition to a concentration camp. THE PIANIST has the unique aspect that Polanski himself was a survivor of the very ghetto featured in the narrative and this extremely personal touch has a reverent effect upon viewers.
SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993)
The definitive film on the holocaust must be SCHINDLER’S LIST, with its roots based in the true story of Oskar Schindler who becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce in Poland after the rise of the Nazi party. One of Spielberg’s greatest, the story packs a weighty punch as the previously scrupulous Schindler becomes an unlikely humanitarian hero. All of the important elements of filmmaking work in perfect unison to create a beautifully balanced film that will remain with audiences forever. It’s with films like this that the phrase ‘lest we forget’ has never rung more true.
This seven and a half hour television mini series tells the saga of a Jewish family as they struggle to cope with the burgeoning power of the Nazis and the systematic capturing and extermination of their people. Back in the late 70’s it was an incredibly groundbreaking production that looked in depth at the tragedy of the Holocaust. A very young Meryl Streep stands out among a talented cast.
Blending action and suspense with a raw and gritty narrative, DEFIANCE is more traditional war film in many ways. However, it also tells a very important story of Jews doing whatever is necessary to escape the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. Based on a true story.
THE ROUND UP (2010)
THE ROUND UP (LA RAFLE) is a thoroughly moving and engaging French film that looks at the horrors bestowed on Jews who fled to France to the ‘safe zone’ of Vel’ d’Hiv just outside of Paris after the outbreak of the war. Betrayed by the French government after Nazi occupation, these families found themselves shipped to concentration camps as an offering of compliance by the French to the Germans.
LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL (1997)
Depicting the ability one man has to remain strong for his child – even when facing the most extreme horrors – LIFE IS BEUATIFUL (LA VITA E BELLA) paints a strong picture of resilience in the face of oppression.
Offering an exceptionally unique take upon the Holocaust – the story is told through the innocent eyes of a young German child – THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS is a very moving and enthralling film. The secret friendship between Bruno and the young Jewish boy imprisoned in the concentration camp perfectly demonstrates how children see the world through untainted and unprejudiced eyes.
Starring Luca Zingaretti, from the BBC hit series MONTALBANO, and featuring a Ennio Morricone score, PERLASCA (PERLASCA: UN EROE ITALIANO) charts the journey of Giorgio Perlasca, who saved more than 5,000 Jews during the war. In one of the movie’s most tense scenes, Perlasca audaciously rescues two boys from being herded onto a freight train in defiance of a German lieutenant colonel on the scene, who happened to be none other than Adolf Eichmann.