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Successful doctor Artur Planck (Joseph Fiennes), his wife Clara (Neve McIntosh) and their two daughters are seeking shelter from the Nazis storming Poland. They find a safe house in the farm of Emilia (Kelly Harrison), their local grocer who is all alone after her husband fought for his country and never returned. Amidst the horrors of the war that surrounds them, an impossible love triangle erupts as Emelia uncontrollably falls in love with Artur. Such a fragile arrangement is sustained by love - or is it just the will to survive? The answer to that question may not even be made known to those who make it out alive
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Highly Recommend To Enjoy but Learn From.
Inevitably, viewers who have seen Roman Polanski's Oscar-winning Holocaust movie THE PIANIST will want to compare SPRING 1941 to it. There are undeniable similarities: both movies are about musicians (Szpilman in THE PIANIST, Artur's wife, Clara, in SPRING 1941); both movies are set in Poland. THE PIANIST, however, was a film with a large cast and a big budget, whose titular character was a real person; SPRING 1941, based on short stories, has a small cast and budget -- yet it uses its limited resources extremely well and never actually looks "made on the cheap." It is a classy, beautifully acted film with things to say about the Holocaust that are different than what THE PIANIST said or what SCHINDLER'S LIST said. Several scenes in SPRING 1941 are truly horrifying, and the movie as a whole will haunt you for days and weeks. My only complaint is that I believe more or better incidental music could have enhanced the drama.
This is a great movie and I watch it on Netflix several times. Each time this movie provokes anger, namely at Emilia. She took total advantage of this family by coming between the husband and wife relationship. I thought a lot about Emilia's sacrifice for them and come to the conclusion that I would hope any decent human being would do. The part that tore right into my heart was the line by Emilia when she demanded the husband to see his family only once a week before church and he must forget he is Jewish and go to church and she said "…I AM NOT ASKING FOR MUCH!!!" I laugh everytime I hear Emilia stated this and knowing she took advantage of a family's weak and vulnerable position.
Seeing Emilia decades later when she opened to door to see Clara, Emilia's sight frightene me. She looked like a cavewomen and I thought about the poor family's being victimized by the Nazi and the cavewoman. Nope I have zero sympathy for Emilia and I would hope any decide human being would help the Jewish people's desparate position.
The story is set in Poland in 1941 as the Nazis take over Poland and almost immediately begin suppressing the Jewish population. Caught in this dangerous web is a young Jewish doctor, Artur Planck (Joseph Fiennes), his cellist wife, Clara (Clare Higgins), and their two young daughters. Fearing the worst, Artur begs the local produce supplier, Emilia (Maria Pakulnis) to shelter them at her remote rural farmhouse. Emilia refuses, for she knows death awaits any Polish Gentile caught sheltering Jews. But one desperate night, Artur makes the decision to make the dangerous journey (with his family) to Emilia's farmhouse in the country. Tragedy strikes along the way, but the now diminished family make it to the country and Emilia has no choice but to take them in.Here's where things begin to take a strange twist - Emilia, feeling lonely (her husband who was off fighting the Germans, is presumed dead) begins to develop a strong attraction to Artur, and Artur responds to her overtures. Clara, who senses what's going on becomes predictably resentful but also realizes they are at Emilia's mercy.
The movie is told in two narrative strands - one focuses on an older Clara who is visiting Poland to perform in a concert (30 years after the events of the Holocaust), the other is told via Clara's flashbacks to the past involving her younger self, Artur, and Emilia. The switch between the past and present is done quite well, without any jarring effects. The lead actors are credible in their portrayal of individuals driven to make difficult choices under extraordinary and difficult circumstances. Joseph Fiennes is credible as the conflicted husband who feels guilty on the one hand for betraying his wife, but also feels a sense of gratitude and duty towards Emilia. Maria Pakulnis is compelling in her portrayal of a Gentile woman who feels so utterly alone that she contemplates the unthinkable, i.e. having an affair with a married man and hoping to beget children with a Jew, all the more startling given her devoutness. Clare Higgins delivers a finely-nuanced performance as the tortured wife.
There are some disturbing scenes in the movie, involving violent acts towards children and a mass shooting. The movie effectively captures the desperate nature of the time - the depravity of the Nazis (laughing soldiers clicking away with their cameras as they watch the doomed Jews being marched off to be executed), how people are driven to do the unthinkable under harsh circumstances, etc. It was heartening to see some Poles being portrayed in a positive light - there's a scene where Emilia does all she can to prevent German soldiers from discovering Artur's family in the attic, and another where a Polish Gentile refrains from denouncing Artur to the Germans. There's always the good and bad in people and I felt the movie struck a good balance here in the portrayal of the Poles. "Spring 1941" is a well-told human drama which will appeal to those keen on Holocaust dramas.