Friday, January 25, 2008

Ostatni etap / The Last Stage

Ken tästä käy... / Sista etappen. PL 1948. PC: Film Polski. P+D: Wanda Jakubowska. SC: Wanda Jakubowska, Gerda Schneider. DP: Borys Monastyrski. PD: Roman Mann, Czeslaw Piaskowski. M: Roman Palester. Starring: Tatjana Gorecka (Eugenia, doctor-prisoner), Antonina Gordon-Gorecka (Anna, nurse-prisoner), Barbara Drapinska (Marta Weiss), Aleksandra Slaska (superintendent of the women's block). A 35 mm Filmoteca Narodowa print with English subtitles (often good definition of light, partly high-contrast and dark). Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Forum Holocaust), 25 Jan 2008.

Observations revisiting a classic film: 1) this is the story of the women's block, 2) strong opening scene, bullied women prisoners, one of them pregnant, are kept standing, but they stay tough and express solidarity by swinging rhythmically, 3) the story of the baby in Auschwitz, 4) here are iconic images such as the smoke from the crematorium chimneys, suicide victims on the electric fence, the endless heaps of hair, toys, suitcases and so on, 4) strong dramatic score, 5) the women' s orchestra playing classical music, 6) the songs of the prisoners in Polish, Russian, and French, 7) banal schlager music in the torture chamber, 8) the prisoners are au courant of the war events, 9) the underground resistance with a secret telegraph and radio, 10) many Nazis are thieves, including the fake doctor, 11) this is the story of women's solidarity, 12) the Communists are heroes, there is jubilation for a declaration from Stalin, and the Red air force is the image of coming liberation. Final message: "never again".

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