Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Agnieszka Holland is one of few Polish directors that has been acknowledged outside of Poland. Her first movies, however, were directed in Poland and in Polish. Born in 1948 Holland has moved outside of the country already in 1981. She had worked in Germany and France before moving to the USA in 1990s. She lives now in France.
Agnes Holland’s movies have gained recognition in the West. She has been nominated to Oscar awards three times – also with her last movie ‘In Darkness’.
The movie is of Polish-German-Canadian production. It has been based on the novel called ‘In the Sewers of Lvov’ by Robert Marshall, who based his book on memories of one of characters – Krystyna Chiger – who described her story in a book ‘The Girl in the green sweater’.
‘In Darkness’ tells a real story of Jews that were saved during Holocaust. During the WW II they lived in Lvov ghetto. When the Nazis decided to close it, and kill or move to concentration camps the population of the ghetto, they hid in the sewers. They received help from one of Poles that lived in Lvov.
The movie was done in various cities – Berlin, Leipzig, Lodz, Piotrkow Trybunalski and Warsaw. Most of the scenes were, however, shot in real sewers what made it even more difficult. The actors, that have been also of various nationalities, needed to cooperate with each other in those difficult conditions.
‘In Darkness’ is a long movie. But it draws your attention straight away – as I was afraid I would not be able to stand over 2 hours in the cinema. I did not cry after it finished (as it sometimes happened to me when watching the movies of this kind) but I was not disappointed at all.
The actors exceeded my expectations – especially Robert Wieckiewicz whom I associated with tough roles from his previous movies. The story did not show ideal heroes that tried to save the world and others, and victims who always humbly accepted their fate. ‘In Darkness’ shows the story of a man who is afraid to die, who wants to save the family no matter the cost. It shows bad Ukrainians and bad Jews – who even betray their beloved ones. It proves that many simple people – although not necessarily helping the Nazis – would treat the Holocaust as an opportunity to make good money out of it.
The main character helps a group of Jews for money but with time he changes his approach towards the people who depend on him. But to understand how that change happened, you need to see the movie yourself.
‘In Darkness’ is definitely a movie that I recommend. After watching it – if not already before – you will not be able to restrain from searching for history of people whose story has been placed in reality of the movie.