The Courageous Heart Of Irena Sendler (2009)
The story of Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who took part in the underground resistance to the German occupation during WWII and ended up saving 2500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto. I don’t watch many made-for-TV movies as many of them just turn out to be nothing more than a quick attempt for a station to grab a quick buck, but this one is an exception to that norm. It may not be flawless in regards to its effectiveness as a film/story, but it does serve the important purpose of having us know of the heroism of people like Sendler and what common folk chose to do in defiance of the tyrannical Nazi regime. Anna Paquin of True Blood and X-Men fame plays the title character, and simply doesn’t fit the shoes of the role as well as many other actors have in great historical roles. There’s no doubt she’s doing her best, but her Polish accent is not as convincing as it should be. Her occasional slip of her own Canadian/American accent does play with her general feeling of authenticity. To complicate this matter, the film is more driven by historiography than it is characters and story, and without ever really getting to know her as a person your own investment is pretty much based on your sympathies of the Jewish people. Is this to say the film isn’t compelling? No way, it’s just that a film should be driven by an audience’s investment in characters as opposed to historical circumstances. As far as the history side of things goes, it’s done a swell job. The recreation of the Polish ghettos and the living conditions the Jews experienced are quite accurate to my own knowledge, and it’s by far a good example of making a great set out of what I presume is a more limited budget. Suitably, I was also pleased with the film’s ending. As opposed to distracting us with a view of a brighter future following the war’s end, it stops in the middle of the conflict and reminds us that only worse things were to come to the Jewish people at that point in time. It’s depressing, and it should be. The Holocaust was pretty much the failure of European civilization, but knowing there were figures like Sendler truly was fortunate. It’s no Schindler’s List, but these stories have a great value to the world, I enjoyed the film and I’d say give it a rent.