Film

Film

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Unlikely Heroes joins a recent wave of Holocaust documentaries—best exemplified by Claude Lanzmann’s brilliant Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m.—highlighting Jewish acts of resistance to the Nazi genocide. The latter film focused closely on a single survivor; the more overtly pedagogical Unlikely Heroes (which features mellifluously heavy-handed voice-over by Ben Kingsley) jumps among seven stories of individuals who saved lives or helped others preserve, in the face of darkness, a cherished fragment of their humanity. Here, alongside the Jewish partisan, you’ll find: a lawyer who organized illegal transports of European Jews to Palestine; an Orthodox woman who arranged for their safe passage to her home in Switzerland; an artist, trained at the Bauhaus, who taught children interned at Terezinstadt to paint; and a boy who sang Yiddish songs to inmates in the death camps. This omnibus approach to history proves that the forms of defiance people chose were as various as their lives and talents. But it’s also frustrating—we long to learn more about each individual. Still, the sheer fascination and profoundly moving power of these stories transcend the film’s more conventional limitations.

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