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Playing for Time [Blu-ray] (1980)

Vanessa Redgrave , Jane Alexander , Daniel Mann  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)

List Price: $29.95
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Playing for Time [Blu-ray] + Holocaust
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Product Details

  • Actors: Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Alexander, Maud Adams, Shirley Knight, Marisa Berenson
  • Directors: Daniel Mann
  • Writers: Arthur Miller, Fania Fenelon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Color
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Olive Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 24, 2013
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00DW2O400
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,845 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Vanessa Redgrave (Julia) stars as Fania Fenelon, a Jewish cabaret singer in Paris during the Nazi invasion. Fania and thousands of other Jewish and political prisoners are sent to the Auschwitz death camps on crowded trains. She's certain that she and all the others are doomed after all their belongings and clothes are taken and their heads are callously shaven. Fania and a group of other classical musicians are spared from death in return for performing music for their captors, headed by SS camp matron Shirley Knight (The Rain People). They are also to perform to the benefit of those who are herded to the gas chambers: - a "humane" means of easing the condemned to the next world. Playing For Time was adapted as a play by Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman) and directed by Daniel Mann (The Rose Tattoo). The Stellar cast also includes: Jane Alexander (Testament), Maud Adams (Octopussy), Marisa Berenson (Barry Lyndon), Verna Bloom (The Hired Hand), and Viveca Lindfors (Dark City). Winner of 4 Emmy Awards including Best Drama, Actress (Redgrave), Supporting Actress (Alexander), Best Teleplay (Miller) and winner of a 1981 Peabody Award.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
137 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GUT-WRENCHINGLY GOOD March 14, 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
THIS IS A STUNNING MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE. IT COULD NOT BE MORE DIFFERENT THAN SCHINDLER'S LIST, AND I FOUND IT MUCH MORE INVOLVING AND CONFRONTING. VANESSA REDGRAVE IS ABSOLUTELY RIVETING IN THE ROLE OF FANIA FENELONG, WHO BECOMES PART OF A BIZARRE ORCHESTRA AT AUSCHWITZ, ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHER WOMEN. THIS ORCHESTRA IS OF COURSE AT THE MERCY OF THEIR CAPTORS, AND THEY ARE EXPECTED TO PLAY LIKE VIRTUOSOS (LUCKILY, MOST OF THEM ARE), DESPITING THE FACT THAT THAY ARE OFTEN HUNGRY AND SICK. THE WHOLE CAST IS AMAZING AND THERE ARE SEVERAL MOVING AND VERY HUMAN SCENES INVOLVING A FEW OF THE GERMAN CAPTOR'S, ESPECIALLY ONE WOMAN IN PARTICULAR. AS TIME GOES ON, DIVISIONS OCCUR BETWEEN THE (MOSTLY) JEWISH WOMEN MAKING UP THE ORCHESTRA, AND FANIA BECOMES EVERYONE'S MENTOR. (EVEN THOUGH SHE DOESN'T MEAN TO). THE WHOLE FILM IS DARKLY REALISTIC, COMPLETE WITH MOUTH-SORES, SHAVED HEADS, GRIMY FACES AND SUNKEN-LOOKING EYES. A HAUNTING, RIVETING YET (SOMEHOW) UPLIFTING FILM, IT IS STUNNINGLY SHOT, AND SEEMED SO REAL THAT I COULD ALMOST SMELL IT.
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75 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing for time December 23, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Very haunting.Has always stayed in my mind after seeing it over 10 yrs. ago. The horrible part is that actually happened! Who,s to say similar events could not happen again? God help us! Everyone should see this incredible,stirring and factual film.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHY NO DVD ??? July 29, 2007
Format:VHS Tape
THIS IS AN EXTRAORDINARY PIECE THAT SHOULD NEVER BE LOST. PLEASE SOMEONE DIGITALLY REMASTER AND LET'S HAVE A DVD. THE SCRIPT AND THE PERFORMANCES ARE HAUNTING AND OFFER SO MUCH DEPTH TO A WORLD GONE MAD WITH THE PARADOX'S OF PERSECUTORS AND VICTIMS BECOMING CONFUSED AND DEADLY.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars dog-mother September 21, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
At the age of 16, I had the interesting experience of being an "extra" in this movie. My mother (now deceased) also was an extra, and it was a neat experience for us to share. I was a Pennsylvania farm girl, so this was exciting for me. I remember that during the filming it was VERY cold. We were in thin clothing for long periods of time and the running noses and uncomfortable looks that were written on the faces of the "prisoners" were not all pretend! Vanessa Redgrave was a class act. As a star, she had a trailer on site to go into to eat and be warm and cozy. Instead, she chose to eat box lunches with us in the unheated empty barracks buildings. I remember how when I met her, her eyes were red, she was truly prisoner camp thin, and her nose was running. But she greeted us, shook our hands and sat down to talk with us to eat the very same food that we did. I was impressed! Also, I discovered how long, intense and repetetive the days of a Hollywood star could be. It changed my opinion of the film industry forever. The prison camp scenes were filmed at Ft. Indiantown Gap in PA.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I have watched dozens of Holocaust-themed dramas over the years and am quite surprised that I've missed this superior quality production starring Vanessa Redgrave. Set during the Holocaust, Redgrave portrays sophisticated French cabaret singer Fania Fenelon who finds herself on a train to notorious Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her talent for singing and playing the piano attracts the attention of the Nazis and she gets selected to play with the female Jewish orchestra at the camp, headed by Alma Rose (played superbly by Jane Alexander). The story focuses not so much on the horrors at the camp, but on the emotional and psychological toll on the inmates at the camp. Fania tries to maintain her dignity as a human being, despite witnessing the depravity around her. A young woman who latches onto Fania goes through a horrible transformation - from a sweet young woman to a needy leech to a wanton woman who would do anything (sleep with Jews, Poles, and Nazis) in order to stay alive. Fania is horrified by this transformation, but tries her best to advise her young friend, to no avail.

Then there's Alma, the strict conductor who demands excellence from her starving musicians. Fania and Alma frequently clash over their approach to the Nazis - Fania feels they should not work so hard to please the Nazis, but Alma feels that pleasing the Nazis is essential in order to stay alive. I like how this drama explores not just the difficulties experienced by the female Jewish inmates, but also other themes. The animosity between the Poles and Jews is well-explored, and we come to understand that some of this animosity is due more to a lack of understanding of the other's culture. The Nazis, even the infamous Dr.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing movie March 1, 2008
Format:VHS Tape
When this movie was shown originally on TV, it was also shown in my high school English class. For many students, it was their first significant exposure to the horrors of the Nazi and the realities of a concentration camp. I remember we were all mesmerized and horrified. To this day, that first showing of "Playing for Time" haunts me, and seeing it since a few times, it has not lost any impact. I can still recite some of the lines. It's probably the first great made-for-TV film every made. That this film is not on DVD is shameful; once it is, I'll definitely be one of the buyers.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AGAIN, WHY NO DVD? April 27, 2008
Format:VHS Tape
Why, oh why hasn't this incredible movie been transferred to DVD? I don't want to spend $40 on VHS at a minimum and then it pops up on DVD! One of the most gripping Holocaust Movies ever made! Emotional and powerful from beginning to end. Few movies have the effect this one did on me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very touching movie
The first time I saw this movie, was years ago. I LOVE to see anything about the war about the Jewish people. this took place in one buiding. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Virginia
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous
This is one of my all time favorite films svn though it is very heavy and extremely sad with Redgrave is excellent form.
Published 16 days ago by Carol C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
Haven't seen this in a very long time. Purchased to keep in my library. Very well worth having as a documentary and well written movie.
Published 17 days ago by Peonyviolet
4.0 out of 5 stars Tear-jerking movie
It captures what happened to some of the women who were in the concentration camps. These were musicians who were trying to stay alive. Read more
Published 1 month ago by roamieboy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie!
This is a true story about how a group of Jewish women musicians survived a Nazi death camp. The story shows how conflicted they were about entertaining the Germans in order to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Glenda Phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing but informative
Anti-Semitism is live and well on plant earth. Israel was not ready to obey but will be. This movie shows a certain Jewish lady being selected to remember the suffering of the Jews... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Slonimer
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching
This movie about a Holocaust victim's struggle to survive is incredibly moving. Vanessa Redgrave is a gifted actress who in this particular movie brought me to tears.
Published 2 months ago by YoungCub
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have
I watch this movie about 20 years ago on TV late at night. Was thinking was it still around, well, yes. This movie was better than it was when I watched it for the first time. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nate
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
This is a top notch movie! Reminds us of huge historical significance of awareness of our pasts to protect our future.
Published 4 months ago by santowz
5.0 out of 5 stars Kind of depressing, but good movie
I was in this movie when it was filmed at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Pennsylvania. I played a nude, bald prisoner - what an experience. Read more
Published 5 months ago by G. House
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