Tuesday, 19 June 2012

In Darkness.

The sewers of Lvov.
Be warned, In Darkness (2011) is a serious film that portrays a serious heart rendering narrative. Adapted for the screen by Canadian David Shamoan from Robert Marshall's book In The Sewers of Lvov and directed by Polish film and TV director Agnieszka Holland. This 'below the Streets of Warsaw Schindler's List' involves Leopold Socha (the wonderful Robert Wieckiewicz) a sewer worker and petty thief in the Nazi occupied city of Lvov in Poland, who one day encounters a group of Jews trying to escape the liquidation of the ghetto. He hides them, for money, in the town’s sewers beneath the ever more dangerous activity accruing in the streets above. What starts out as a straightforward exploitive business arrangement turns into an unlikely alliance between the Polish sewerage worker and the Jews as their dilemma sinks deeper into Socha’s conscience ending up with him risking his own well being to protect 'his Jews' an action for which he was posthumously honoured by Israel as a 'righteous gentle'

Hiding amongst the excrement and rats.

Dedicated to Marek Edelman who was the last surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (he died in October 2009) this claustrophobically convincing film, where no one is portrayed as perfect, is an extraordinary story of survival as men, women and children try to outwit certain death during 14 months of ever increasing and intense danger surrounded by human excrement and rats. Closely based on fact, it's unsettling, moving and hard to watch, it has a Tarkovsky level of bleakness. Try as you will you won't be able to distance yourselves from this story, it's impossible, it grips you by the emotional throat and never lets up until long after the final credits role. There were no smiling faces leaving the cinema that night, more a look of shook.
The danger at street level.

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