W ciemności a.k.a In Darkness (Agnieszka Holland, 2011)
First, I wanna say that it’s not really easy to see this film. I felt disturbing and uncomfortable, but trust me, it’s worth watching. Based on Robert Marshall’s book “In the Sewers of Lvov”, it tells about a terrific true story of a brave man who tries to save a dozen of Jews by hiding them in sewer of Lvov town during the Nazi’s occupation in Poland.
This man is Leopold “Poldek” Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz). He works in sewer every day. It makes him as an expert about sewer, the dark place beneath the city. He is in the situation between two sides, the Nazi he dislikes and the Jews he doesn’t care so much.
Poldek, at first, has intention to get more money from Jews. He provides foods and necessities that they need during the hiding and he won’t tell the Nazi about their existence, and they must pay some money to him as reward. At the time there is nothing left, Poldek gets nothing but sympathy. Then, keeping them save becomes more than just money. He takes all risk to protect Jews, including his family and his life. Will they survive together?
All aspect in this film is powerful. Let’s start from the story. It’s very common. Maybe there are many films which have same theme. When others focus on war, politic, and nationalism, this is not. This is about the darkness and the brightest side of humanity when they try to survive. That makes it very unique.
The brilliant script really works. David F. Shamoon can describe well about what the characters feel in uncommon and difficult circumstance. It gets better as the plot evolves. The characters become complex and interesting. Some incidents that threaten the refugees always come without anyone realize about that. I felt gripping when I saw those moments. Although it has duration more than 2 hours, I kept watching it without any interruption.
Well done for Agnieszka Holland as a director. This is not easy to tell but she could do it successfully. She offers something new from kind of Holocaust film. Focusing on developing the character, she delivers some important message to us that how a courage and spirit of humanity can be more superior than just feeling egoist and being safe in comfort zone. I still contemplated for a while after this film finished. Their suffering, struggle, and cooperation really touched my heart. It’s such a great film with meaningful message for all audiences. I thought I’ve already watched kind of Holocaust film enough, and I’ve never seen kind of this one.
The most scenes in this film take place in sewer. It’s not an easy to shoot in that place. Nevertheless, the film makers can create a situation of real dark sewer, complete with rats, dirty water, and unpleasant smell. Like what I said, it successfully makes the audiences uncomfortable.
The acting of all cast is superb, especially Robert Wieckiewicz and including the children artist. They all can deliver a dramatic performance.
If Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (2002) tells about how a man survives and Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful (1997 )tells about how a family survives, this “In Darkness” tells us how a society tries to survive together. I can definitely see why this got the Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film in 2012.