Unlikely Heroes (2003) Poster

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9/10
I expected okay, I got Amazing
phadrs12 November 2004
The satellite system guide said this movie was recollections of Holocaust survivors about the Jewish Resistance fighters. I expected the usual series of difficult-to-understand interviews with old people about their experiences but my wife likes those so we watched.

The thing is, this wasn't about the camps. It was about the Resistance, which most of us know nothing of. Truly heroic stuff about guys who formed guerrilla camps in the forests to blow up Nazi troop and supply trains and bridges and heated and wrapped the rails around tree trunks. One guy stayed in the city with some friends and proceeded to don uniforms of dead Nazi officers and SS in order to infiltrate their meetings and then run off and rescue those Jews the Nazis were about to raid. I can't do the excitement of it all justice.

The form is clear interviews with both historians and survivors along with actual film footage of the Resistance activities of contemporary semblance thereof. It's like American Experience with Ben Kingsley taking over for David McCullough. Well worthwhile from many points of view.
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7/10
Better Angels of Our Nature
rmax30482321 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There is humanity and bravery enough to go around in these seven stories. Bravery because people risked invaluable things for the sake of others, and humanity because some of them gave things to others even under conditions so hopeless that there was nothing left to risk.

It's impossible not to be moved by narratives involving the Nazi program of genocide, perhaps the most horrifying event of the last century. And it's for this reason that it's important for the subject to be treated with care and delicacy. A tragedy of such monumental proportions can't be cheapened by easy sentiment or falsified by myth. There were, for instance, not six million people murdered in the camps. Nobody will ever know the exact figure but it is closer to fourteen million. In addition to Jews the victims included Gypsies, homosexuals, communists, political undesirables, the mentally retarded and the otherwise "unfit." Much of the footage is unfamiliar and, with one exception, the seven people described were quite ordinary until they were called upon to be otherwise.

The narration (by Ben Kingsley, who has a great voice) is perhaps a bit heavy, but perhaps not. Anyone old enough to remember these events don't need the information to be laid on too thick. Still the details of what went on in countries we hear little about -- Hungary, for instance, or Lithuania -- add to the store of what we all should know. In addition, I'm beginning to wonder, judging from some of the things I've heard from younger people, if these events have now become so much history, about as meaningful to them as Guy Fawke's Day. (I certainly hope not.) At any rate, the film deserves to be long. The informants, who've seen these things at first hand, will not be with us much longer.
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