XL Popcorn – Europa Europa

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 815/1007Title: Hitlerjunge Salomon (Europa Europa)
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Year: 1990
Country: Germany

I was meant to be in Malta right now, but all that went to hell with the whole coronavirus pandemic. So, I have two days of leave that I cannot reschedule that I am spending in the flat alone whilst my husband works from home upstairs. So, this is the first of 5-6 films to help me accelerate through the 1001 list. It is also the first time ages where seeing a film from the 1990s makes statistical sense – which is how we ended up here.

From the off, Europa Europa is based on a real life story composed of a number of unlikely and, ultimately lucky, events. It’s the story of a Jewish boy who, during World War Two, is able to assimilate into and find protection as part of first the Soviet regime and then by masquerading as a non-Jewish German. The sequence itself is unbelievable, which makes it all the more astonishing that for the most part this actually happened.

What I take some issue in, however, is how they have taken a story that is already pretty unbelievable and then added onto it. I get that this is to streamline things and make it more cinematic, but all too often it just felt like the central character was the charmed son of a Jewish woman and a four leaf clover. I know coincidences happen, but by the end of it I just found myself exclaiming out loud ‘of course that happened’ at things that I later found out were added to the film.

That isn’t to say that wasn’t a good film in it’s own right as, of the three films I saw today that will be coming up in future posts, this was the best of the bunch. If you took away some of the unbelievability and have the lip-synching on Julie Delpy done properly so it wasn’t distracting, this would have been so much better and I would be able to call it great rather than good.

The sheer force of will and survival instincts in the face of certain death is absolutely astonishing. Plus, there is enough dark comedy in here to stop it from being so suffocatingly dark. I just wish that the final scene where he re-unites with his brother was done as it actually happened. Films are always going to be, by their very nature, manipulative but that was just one bit too far.

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