Story of a the heroic escape of a group of prisoners living in horrifying conditions in Nazi camp.
Release Date: 12 April 1987 (USA)
Director: Jack Gold
Writer: Thomas 'Toivi' Blatt, Richard Rashke
Cast: Alan Arkin, Joanna Pacula, Rutger Hauer
Country: UK, Yugoslavia
There are plenty of movies that depict the horror, tragedy, and personal anguish of the Holocaust during World War II. Plenty of them have become worldwide blockbusters on the big screen, while others have been relegated to the land of television. There are those that had transcended the barrier of television and onto DVD. This is the case of Escape from Sobibor.
Set in the concentration camp of Sobibor, the characters fight for the lives in the most undesirable atmosphere. Sobibor was one of the three Operation Rainhard extermination camps that were given the task of exterminating as many people as they could. Those inside the camp face the horror of winding up inside the gas chambers, being malnourished, and eventually even choosing someone to die with them.
Escape from Sobibor was created as a television movie so you will not find the overtly graphic scenes that movies for the box office will present to viewers. Because of this there is the tendency to overlook the atrocities in the concentration camp. However, to combat this natural reaction, the directors, actors, producers, and everyone else involved have put a tremendous amount of effort into the personal aspect of the prisoners in the camp. The struggle for survival is what your heart will be hurting from.
Director Jack Gold wanted to show that the people in the concentration camps should be the main focus rather than the events themselves. These people were faced with the daily confusion over what was happening to their family and friends while also coming to grips with their own peril.
The movie is also catapulted to higher levels with the way that the actors put themselves into this movie. Alan Arkin, who plays Leon Feldhendler and was nominated for both a Golden Globe Award, and an Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor, gives one of the performances of his life. Add to this appeal Joanna Pacula, Rutger Hauer, who eventually won an Emmy for Best Performance by an Actor in Supporting Role, Hartmut Becker, and Jack Shephard give equally impressive performances.
While Escape from Sobibor is based on the events that took place October of 1943, within the confines of a Nazi concentration camp, it is also a personal struggle with heavy consequences. Because some prisoners escaped from another concentration camp, the Commandant of the Sobibor camp made a vow that no one would escape his camp. One of the pivotal moments in the movie is when 13 prisoners did attempt escape but were captured. They were to be executed, but had the added weight of choosing someone to die with them. This personal anguish transcends the television screen and into the heart of the viewer as they are also presented with this gripping, if not heart wrenching, predicament. With this realization that someone else will die if you try to escape, the entire camp then attempts this feat.
Escape from Sobibor is more than just another Holocaust movie. It is a film that brings to life, in a very personal way, the struggle for life in extremely adverse conditions. It’s the epic struggle of good over evil.