There is hope, redemption, and tragedy in the ten movies about the Holocaust. These films prove there were good people to be found during one of the darkest periods in human history while also effectively portraying the evils that drove it.
- “The Last Metro” (1980) Directed by François Truffaut, “…Metro” is about a theater actress who must protect her Jewish husband from being discovered by the Nazis, all the while assuming his job as theater director. More than that, however, the film is about life in occupied Paris and the importance of art in preserving community and hope.
- “Life Is Beautiful” (1999) A mostly upbeat film, “Life Is Beautiful” tells the tale of a Jewish man’s efforts to keep his family happy and united while detained in a concentration camp. Winner of three Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor.
- “Defiance” (2008) One of the finest action-based movies about the Holocaust, “Defiance” is the story of a band of Jewish refugees surviving in the forests of eastern Poland while Nazis occupy Belarus. Led by the four Bielski brothers, the refugees engage in combat with the Germans while living off the land, doing all they can to survive. The uplifting postscript to this real-life story is that the Bielski clan survived the war and saw their descendants grow to over 10,000 people.
- “Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg” (1990) Considered by many to be the European “Schindler’s List,” it was released three years prior to Steven Spielberg’s film. “Good Evening…” is the real life story of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swede who saved the lives of an estimated 65,000 Hungarian Jews.
- “Sophie’s Choice” (1982) The tale of a Polish immigrant who escaped a Nazi concentration camp, “Sophie’s Choice” focuses on the consequences of the title character’s life-changing decision while under Nazi control. Considered one of the best movies about the Holocaust, it was nominated for five Academy Awards, with Meryl Streep receiving Best Actress honors.
- “The Pawnbroker” (1965) Based on the novel by Edward Lewis Wallant, “Pawnbroker” is a movie about the Holocaust and its long-term psychological effects from the viewpoint of a survivor. Rod Steiger’s performance as a deeply scarred Jewish pawnbroker in New York is thought to be the finest of his career, and the movie excels at showing his struggles with evil.
- “Sunshine” (1999) Three generations of a Jewish family are explored in this film, from the turn of the 20th century through the Holocaust. Riveting and tragic, it details the family’s poor beginnings and their gradual climb to prosperity before the Nazis take it all away.
- “Europa Europa” (1990) Another movie about the Holocaust that centers around a true life story, this one is based on the autobiography of Solomon Perel. During World War II, Perel evaded Nazi capture by pretending to be an Aryan who later joins the Hitler Youth. The movie shows Perel coming close to detection and capture several times, all the while highlighting the atrocious nature of the Nazi regime and the innocent lives lost to it.
- “The Pianist” (2002) A haunting portrayal of one man’s life as he successfully evades capture from the Nazis and spends his time switching hiding places in order to survive. Based on the true life story of Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Spzilman.
- “Schindler’s List” (1993) One of the starkest movies about the Holocaust on the list, the style and grace with which it handles its subject matter is nearly unmatched. Winner of seven Academy Awards, “Schindler’s List” holds up today for its poignant and moving tribute to a man willing to defy the Nazis to spare as many Jewish lives as possible.
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