Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Europa Europa (5 Stars)

Yes, I confess that I've been refraining from writing reviews deliberately over the last few days. I wanted my tribute to my murdered friend, Brian Farmer, to remain at the top of my page. This might seem alienating to my regular readers who are only interested in my film reviews, but this was important to me. Sorry. Now I have a few reviews ro catch up on. The first is "Europa Europa", the true story of Solomon Perel.

Solomon was born into a Jewish family on April 20th 1925 in Peine, a small German town near Hanover. When the Nazis came into power his family emigrated to Poland, where they expected to be safe. In 1939 Germany invaded Poland. Solomon's family was arrested, while he himself managed to flee into Lithuania, which was under Russian control. He spent two years in an orphanage and became a passionate Communist. In 1941 the Germans conquered the area, and Solomon surrendered to them, claiming his name was Josef Peters, an ethnic German whose parents had been killed.

Even though he was only 16, Solomon/Josef worked in the German army as an interpreter. His two years spent in the orphanage meant he could speak perfect Russian. After a year he is sent to a Nazi academy in Berlin and becomes part of the Hitler Youth. This is where he remains until the Russians invade Berlin in 1945.

The film makes no attempt to excuse the way Solomon lived his life. He was no hero, he simply did what he could to survive. Even if it meant denying his faith to fit in as a good German. Under the same circumstances it's what I would have done too. A remarkable film that has won several awards. And yes, that's the beautiful and talented actress Julie Delpy in the photo above. This is one of her earlier films.

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