The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

06 Apr

This film on Netflix gives a powerful portrait of a heroin during the Second World War. Irena Sendler, who has as a Social Worker access to the Jewish getto in Poland, finds the team she works with without supplies to do what she originally intended: to prevent the typhus from spreading.
She sees the miserable circumstances that are brought on daily base to these Jews by the Germans, and can’t help thinking: there should be more I could do.
One evening she is being phoned quite late by people she knows. They have taken a Jewish child into their care, but no longer dare due to the Germans becoming more strict every day. Irena agrees to take the child with her, lets the girl stay the night with herself.
The next day, she tries to find a Polish family who will take the girl in. This is where the adventure starts. Because if she can find a family for one girl, surely it must be possible to do this for more children?
Aside the fact that it’s highly dangerous what she’s attempting, there’s also the highly emotional side of the story: she will guide the children to a safe place to stay, but will the children ever be reunited with their families? Also, Irena teaches the children to speak Polish instead of Jiddish, as their background cannot be revealed in case Germans would ever hear them. Some Jewish parents have problems with this.
Then again, it’s a war, and children should have a chance to a future.

The acting is incredibly powerful. It’s too bad it’s an American production, which leads to most of the actors talking English while the movie clearly plays in Poland, surrounded by Germans. Bit weird that bit, but OK. Anna Paquin does an excellent job at the weird accent, helped by Goran Visjnic who is Stefan, the man in the house of Janusz Korczak. If you ever did a Pedagogical study, his name should ring a bell, given that he setup his own Pedagogical views in the home for children that he had setup. Stefan is one of the workers in his house and he gives Irena directions as to where she should go to route- and planwise.
Excellent parts of Marcia Gay Harden (Irena’s mother), Steve Speirs (Piotr, the chauffeur) and Ruby Bentall (Stefania, one of Irena’s colleagues).
Piotr especially captures your heart immediately.

Watching a film like this at the current state of the world also makes you realise: in a way, things never changed. People are still able to blame a whole group of other people for doing wrong, while others don’t investigate before they believe this to be true.

The only thing that’s missing from this film, is the information that after the war, indeed efforts were made to reunite the children with the families they came from. It’s obvious that this wasn’t successfull in all cases.

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Posted by on April 6, 2016 in Films, Opinion, Uncategorized


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