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Children Underground

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Easily one of the most astonishing and engaging cinematic works of the past decade, CHILDREN UNDERGROUND is a profoundly intimate and heart-wrenching drama -- an Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature in 2001, and winner at nearly every major

Product Details

  • Actors: Cristina Ionescu, Mihai Alexandre Tudose, Violeta 'Macarena' Rosu, Ana Turturica, Marian Turturica
  • Directors: Edet Belzberg
  • Producers: Edet Belzberg, Jonathan Oppenheim, Alan Oxman, Michel Negroponte, Mona Nicoara
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: February 25, 2003
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008G8MC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,854 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Children Underground" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Calhoun on September 2, 2003
Format: DVD
CHILDREN UNDERGROUND follows a group of children living one subway station in Bucharest, Romania. These unwanted children exist as a result of Ceaucescu�s strict policy of outlaying abortions and birth control. Most grew up in orphanages while others lived with their families in dire poverty. They believe that their lives are better underground. This documentary films the daily exploits of these children along with the struggles they encounter to rehabilitate themselves. In order to attend school they must come clean and stop sniffing paint. In addition, they must have their identity papers, which are almost impossible for most of them. The most enduring parts of this film center on the interviews of the various family members of these children. Truly heartbreaking is the family of the small boy who doesn�t understand why their youngest child won�t return home. Watching this film will certainly make you appreciate the material things often taken for granted.
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Having just seen the DVD of Children Underground I must say strongly that this film should be seen by everyone in the postmodern first world. I saw these things for myself in Romania during December of 2000. The apathy on the streets of Bucharest was deep and dark. My friends there kept shrugging their shoulders saying; "What can you do?" A documentary on the thousands of dogs on the streets would be a riveting nightmare in itself. While I was there they held an election. The choice of presidential candidates was reduced to a hard-line old school communist and a new school fascist. The Communist won. People shrugged. The train stations and subway entrances were indeed hives for feral children. I'm deeply grateful to Edet Belzberg for having the courage to descend into this manmade hell to bring these images back. It is my hope that the Romanians themselves find some of that same courage. I was moved that even at this stage of hell several of the kids held on to at least some idea of God. That could be seen by the cynically ironic of the West as the superstition of the hopeless, but perhaps it is also evidence that these children are not hopeless. To blame these problems on the lack of abortions or contraceptives is naïve and simplistic. Listen to the voices of the parents in this film. It is the apathy, the failure of courage and the utter selfishness reinforced by too many years of soul crushing communist dictatorship. We, ourselves, have no reason to gloat. Apart from having a surfeit of material possessions would we fare any better if the props were kicked from beneath us? Perhaps, perhaps not. This film, along with Lilja 4-Ever, is a warning sign of something growing in this world. Robert L. Kaplan termed it The Coming Anarchy. It will spread. Meanwhile how will you respond to these things? With compassion or with apathy?
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Format: DVD
I haven't written a review for a very, very long time; there simply hasn't been one worth writing. And after noting the lack of reviews, or seemingly brief reviews, for "Children Underground," I was compelled to do so. I now understand why the majority of reviews merely repeat what we're already told about the documentary, or simply state the pertinence of viewing this. I'm not going to tell you what you've already read here, for the basic plot summary and details cannot prepare you for the viewing experience. There's simply no way I could've been prepared for "Children Underground," despite my extensive collection of documentaries, many of which I thought to be deeply disturbing.

This is something you must see to believe; it takes us on an intimate journey to the darkest depths of a reality we've never even fathomed, let alone believed could exist. These children, this footage, the way in which it's filmed, the lack of narration, lack of any pre-text besides the initial text at the beginning of the documentary (which I noticed several viewers critiqued), all make this one of the most riveting, engrossing, heartbreaking, and simultaneously unbearable documentaries of all time. You are literally transported into the world of these children, the "aurolac kids."

Through director/producer Edet Belzberg's intimate, shockingly raw, unadultered filming, which is a seemingly impossible feat in and of itself, the viewer is guided through the every day lives of these "children." These are not children we, as a generalized society, imagine encountering, let alone imagine passing by "apathetically" with no way to truly aid them on a daily basis.
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Format: DVD
This powerful look at the utterly desolate lives of small band of Romanian street kids can be taken at face value as a condemnation of the policies of a brutal dictator. But it also speaks volumes about the realities of parents forced (by the Romanian government, in this case) to have unwanted children. The film can be divided into three acts. The first unflinchingly examines the children's daily lives in a subway station, begging for food, money, and water, and sniffing paint. The only upbeat aspect is the occasional joy that the children find in ordinary, childlike play-wading in a pond or playing tag. The second part reveals the dysfunctional families from which the children have either run away or been sent away. In one case, we learn that one of the boys is escaping an abusive father. He misses his sister but is too afraid of his father to even go near the house when a social worker tries to take him there. In another family, the mother has obviously shunned her son and daughter at the behest of her new husband. For me, the most heartbreaking scenes occurs here: A charity worker takes them home to see if the parents will take the children back, but the mother and step-father rationalize the kids' life on the streets; they can make more money there, they say. Then even this facade crumbles as it becomes obvious that the parents simply don't want the kids in their lives. The third part revisits the group after a gap of one year. We see that many of the younger kids have been taken up by charity organizations (which see them as having the best chance for rehabilitation), whereas the ending is not so happy for the older kids. This is a deeply saddening film but a must-see look at the misery created by a heartless government and irresponsible, thoughtless parents. This film and each of the children in it will stay with you forever. --MellowMonk.com
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