MPAA (UR would be PG-13) Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)
Telewizja Polska article*
Karski  [IMDb] (directed and cowritten by Magdalena Łazarkiewicz [IMDb] [FW.pl]* along with Dominik W. Rettinger [IMDb] [FW.pl]*, dramatic concept by Marek Warnitzki [IMDb] with prof. Szymon Rudnicki [IMDb] serving as historical consultant) is a studio theater production made by Polish Television* as part of that country's commemoration of 2014 as The Year of Jan Karski. The film closed the first evening of screenings at the 2015 (27th annual) Polish Film Festival in America in Chicago.
Jan Karski [en.wikip] [pl.wikip]* [IMDb-nm] (played in the film by Łukasz Simlat [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) was the famous courier for the Polish Underground Government [en.wikip] [pl.wikip]* during Nazi occupation who first brought news to the Allies of the Holocaust.
The current film, which is structured as "a film about making a film about Karski" allows use of a great deal of actual archival interviews with Karski, who after the War lived and taught at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Much of that archival material is available on YouTube.
The structure of the film as "a film about the making of the film" also allowed dramatizations of key episodes in Karski's story, notably his meetings with several key members of the Jewish underground resistance in Poland, notably Leon Feiner [en.wikip] [pl.wikip]* (played in the film by Marek Kalita [IMDb] [FW.pl]*), Menachem Kirszenbaum [google] (played in the film by Marcin Bosak [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) and Szmul Zygielbojm [en.wikip] [pl.wikip]*[he.wikip]* (played in the film by Bartłomiej Topa [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) one of two Jewish representatives in the London based Polish Government in Exile.
Key here was the specification of Feiner and Kirszenbaum's messages to the outside world relayed by Karski:
(1) to the Western Allied leaders Churchill and Roosevelt: "YOU must do something to stop the annihilation of the Jews of Europe, WE (the Jewish Resistance) CAN NOT DO IT OURSELVES;"
(2) to the Holy See: "Please issue A PUBLIC PROCLAMATION of AUTOMATIC EXCOMMUNICATION of ANYONE who murders Jews;" and
(3) to the Polish Underground State: "WE (JEWS) ARE LOYAL POLISH CITIZENS, THEREFORE WE ASK YOU TO FIND AND THEN EXECUTE ANY COLLABORATORS WHO TURN OUR (Jewish) PEOPLE OVER TO THE NAZIS and PUBLISH THE NAMES OF THESE EXECUTED NAZI COLLABORATORS IN THE UNDERGROUND PRESS."
The tragedy of this was, of course, that only SOME of this was done BY THOSE WHO COULD (For further discussion of this matter please read and as appropriate add Readers comments below). (Szmul Zygielbojm [en.wikip] [pl.wikip]*[he.wikip]* FAMOUSLY COMMITTED SUICIDE in 1943 in PROTEST to the Western Allies inaction) hence one of the very poignant debates in the film among the film's "fictionalized film makers" Olga (played by Julia Kijowska [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) and Łuk (played by Piotr Głowacki [IMDb] [FW.pl]*) asking the question: "WHY make a film about someone who, BRAVE as he was, _tragically_ SAVED NO ONE?"
The other similarly heartbreaking question asked by Olga: "Doesn't the Holocaust essentially continue today? Every three minutes someone dies of hunger somewhere in the world. WE HAVE THE FOOD, MONEY AND RESOURCES TO STOP THIS but ... WE DON'T."
All in all it makes for a very interesting film and a story that does deserve to be told. I would add that young film-makers the world over would find the film-makers' approach here VERY INTERESTING. A compelling historical story is told here using very simple sets / resources: There are a couple of rooms designed to resemble simple indoor spaces in Poland of the 1940s, another set is basically a "control" or "editing room" set in the current day, and then archival footage is played on essentially on a laptop as the film's "film-makers" discuss its importance to the story being expressed. A LOT OF COMPELLING TALES COULD BE TOLD IN QUITE SIMILAR AND _SIMPLE_ FASHION. Good job!
* Foreign language webpages are most easily translated using Google's Chrome Browser.
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