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BellaOnline's Polish Culture Editor

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The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Guest Author - Barbara Swiech

I recently saw a movie about life of Irena Sendler. I did not know much about it and was not sure what to expect from the movie. I knew the life of Irena Sendler from stories heard and read in newspaper – but never in detail. I was not even aware that the movie was of USA production (and was surprised that I can choose version with Polish subtitles or dubbing). The film, however, was worth seeing.

It is hard for me to call this movie a biographical (as it is usually described) as it says only about a short period of life of Irena Sendler (couple years) – while her life was far more than that. However, it was a great history lesson – and might be a great surprised to those that have never heard of Irena Sendler.

The thing that at once draws the attention of the audience is that ‘The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler’ movie seems to be simple and poor production in comparison to ‘Schindler’s List’ that was filmed by Steven Spielberg. Maybe it is because Sendler is by many compared with Schindler when it comes to number of Jews saved (she actually outnumbered people saved by Schindler). I do not know myself how popular the film about life of Irena Sendler was in foreign countries (that is outside of Poland) but I would not be surprised if some people have never heard of it.

There are however some things in the movie that disappointed me. First of all, Irena is shown as quite cold and self-controlled person. Maybe it is just the way she really was (but hard to imagine watching later interviews with her in which she was depicted as joyful and smiling old lady). Maybe I expected to be touched by her warm heart that was not shown in the movie to the extend it could have been depicted.

Saving of children is shown in the movie the way as if she saved just couple of them. When watching it and hearing afterwards that there were 2500 of them saved, one feels a little bit disoriented.

Another thing that disappointed me was the follow up. When watching movies based on true stories I always imagine if all characters depicted in them were real or fictional, and – in case they were real – what happened to them after the action of the movie ended. I do not know that... I tried to make my own small research to find some people saved by Mrs Sendler and their personal stories, but did not dig out any new information.

However, I still appreciate the movie a lot. I must admit that some parts of it were really breathtaking. If the film helps others to get to know history of Irena Sendler, it is surely worth watching it.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Barbara Swiech. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Barbara Swiech. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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