Saturday, February 8, 2014

818. Hitlerjunge Salomon/Europa Europa (1990)


Running Time: 113 minutes
Directed By: Agnieszka Holland
Written By: Agnieszka Holland, from book by Salomon Perel
Main Cast: Marco Hofschneider, Rene Hofschneider, Julie Delpy, Piotr Kozlowski, Andrew Wilms
Click here to view the trailer

INCOGNITO

I've been meaning to watch this one during this season, because it's the final film from the decade of the 90s, save for the five that I saved back for the grand finale ("The Matrix", "Braveheart", "Unforgiven", "Terminator 2" and "Hearts of Darkness" - don't expect those until the end, unless they are put on a wait by Netflix or something, in which case I'll do them whenever I can get my hands on them). Anyway, we've got more World War II and more Nazism lined up, so here we go...


The film's plot is pretty cut & dry. The film is set in Germany, where a family of Jews live. The film focuses on one member of the family in particular: Salomon Perel, the son of shoe store owner and one of four siblings who comes from a very loving home. Of course, everything is roses until the Nazi regime is established and war breaks out. At first, prior to the start of the war, but following the Nazi occupation, Salomon's father moves the clan to Poland, where he feels they'll be safe. However, as history has taught us, Poland was a terrible idea, considering that the Nazi's take a pretty aggressive stronghold on that country, ultimately sending Solly's parents to the ghetto and sending Solly and Issac (his brother) out to fend for themselves and try to survive. Issac is captured right away, but Salomon manages to find himself in a Soviet orphanage, where he denounces religion and becomes a loyal communist. From there, the Soviet is taken by the Nazis and Solly manages to convince the Nazi soldiers that he's NOT Jewish, mainly by his ability to speak German. It turns out that Solly is an asset to the Germans, being able to speak both their language and Russian, he works for the Nazis as an interpreter. Salomon struggles to keep his circumcised penis a secret, which becomes difficult when he attracts the attentions of not only a homosexual, fellow Nazi, but also a pretty, young, very anti-semitic Leni (Delpy).

SPOILER ALERT!


I realize that this film is based on a true story, but I really wish they'd took more liberties and dramatized the story a little bit more. What you had here was probably the most suspenseful blueprint for a film I've ever seen and instead of being super intense, the film falls flat and we the viewer end up sitting back in our chairs, instead of on the edge where we should be. It seemed like Salomon's being found out began and ended with his penis and whether or not he could keep others from getting a load of it. Weren't there other tip offs that could've been exploited? Someone recognizing him, maybe or perhaps a German officer questioning about his papers, which aren't in order? I realize that both of those things actually do happen, but they're quickly put to rest and everything is hunky dory again. And the thing that really gets me, is that he is never found out. He ends up surrendering and having to convince Allied forces that he is in fact a Jew and it's not until his brother identifies him, that he's saved. It's not that I hated it or anything, it's just that it could've been so much more than it was and all that it ended up being was just another WWII movie, set during the Holocaust.


Otherwise, it's a fine film, I suppose. But not one that I'd write home about or anything. It's well acted, looks good and provides an easy to follow story, even if you're not a Holocaust/WWII buff. The movie flows along quite nicely, with me only stopping to check the elapsed time once or twice. Like I said though, despite a nice flow, I will say that they could've done so much more and with the premise that they had, compated to what they actually present and it should've flowed a lot smoother than it did. What could've been a '10/10', edge of your seat and heartbreaking movie, turned out to be just another movie and that about sums up this one.

RATING: 6/10  I dig Holocaust films, but I don't dig WWII movies and here's hoping there's not many more.

MOVIES WATCHED: 796
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 205

February 8, 2014  4:47pm

2 comments:

  1. If I am correct, this is (supposedly) a true story.
    I certainly remember listening to an interview on the radio with a Jewish guy who managed to survive the war by 'hiding out' in - firstly- the Hitler youth, and then the army.
    I enjoyed this one.. well, I always feel that to say 'enjoyed' for a film like this feels a bit wrong somehow.. but I guess you know what I mean.
    The weak spot was the ending.. in the ruins and chaos of Berlin, at the nick of time.. guess what, long lost brother turns up to save the day.

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    Replies
    1. Yes it was based on a true story, but I still wish they'd played around with it a little bit. I'm sure that not all true stories are followed to a T. And yeah, I also hated the brother showing up at the end. This seemed to be a movie that screamed for an unhappy ending, yet they somehow managed to give it a happy one. Blech.

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