spacetime coordinates: 1939 – 1945 Warsaw, Poland
The Zookeeper’s Wife is a 2017 war drama film directed by Niki Caro and written by Angela Workman, based on Diane Ackerman’s non-fiction book The Zookeeper’s Wife, (which relied heavily on the diaries of Antonina Żabińska, published in Poland as Ludzie i zwierzęta translated as: People and Animals 1968)., recounting the rescue of Jews from the Nazi invasion. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton and Daniel Brühl.
the Way Back is a 2010 survival drama film directed by Peter Weir, from a screenplay by Weir and Keith Clarke. The film is inspired by The Long Walk (1956), the memoir by former Polish prisoner of war Sławomir Rawicz, who claimed to have escaped from a Soviet Gulag and walked 4,000 miles to freedom in World War II. The film stars Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, and Saoirse Ronan, with Alexandru Potocean, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Gustaf Skarsgård, Dragoş Bucur and Mark Strong.
Regardless of whether or not this particular “long walk” really took place, during World War II other Poles undertook difficult journeys attempting to leave the Soviet Union. Accounts of their escapes can be found in the archives of the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in London, and in the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, in California. Also, several relatively verifiable and believable escapee autobiographies have been published in English, e.g., Michael Krupa’s Shallow Graves in Siberia.
Many of the events that happen in the gulag scenes come from Varlam Shalamov’s The Kolyma Tales. (read/download PDF here)
The Man Who Wasn’t There is a 2001 British-American neo-noir crime film written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Billy Bob Thornton stars in the title role. Also featured are Tony Shalhoub, Scarlett Johansson, James Gandolfini, and Coen regulars Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, Richard Jenkins and Jon Polito.
The original soundtrack to The Man Who Wasn’t There consists of classical music, mainly piano sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven, interspersed with cues composed by Carter Burwell.
spacetime coordinates: 1943 Byelorussia
(this one’s heavy)
Come and See (Russian: Иди и смотри, Idi i smotri; Belarusian: Ідзі і глядзі, Idzi i hlyadzi) is a 1985 Soviet war drama film directed by Elem Klimov about, and occurring during, the Nazi German occupation of the Belorussian SSR. Aleksei Kravchenko and Olga Mironova star as the protagonists Florya and Glasha. The screenplay by Klimov and Ales Adamovich had to wait eight years for approval; the film was finally produced to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II.
Come and See Glasha Dancing
Europa (known as Zentropa in North America) is a 1991 Danish art drama film directed by Lars von Trier. It is von Trier’s third theatrical feature film and the final film in his Europa trilogy following The Element of Crime (1984) and Epidemic (1987). Europa was influenced by Franz Kafka‘s Amerika, and the title was chosen “as an echo” of that novel.
A young, idealistic American hopes to “show some kindness” to the German people soon after the end of World War II. In US-occupied Germany, he takes on work as a sleeping car conductor for the Zentropa railway network, falls in love with a femme fatale, and becomes embroiled in a pro-Nazi terrorist conspiracy.
Europa employs an experimental style of cinema, combining largely black and white visuals with occasional intrusions of colour having actors interact with rear-projected footage, and layering different images over one another to surreal effect. The voice-over narration uses an unconventional second-person narrative imitative of a hypnotist
The film’s characters, music, dialogue, and plot are self-consciously melodramatic and ironically imitative of film noir conventions.
April and the Extraordinary World is a 2015 French-Belgian-Canadian animated science fiction adventure film co-directed by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci, co-written by Ekinci and Benjamin Legrand, and starring Marion Cotillard. It depicts an alternate steampunk world with a visual style based on the work of French comics artist Jacques Tardi often credited solely as Tardi.
Hacksaw Ridge is a 2016 biographical war drama film about the World War II experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacificist combat medic who was a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, refusing to carry or use a firearm or weapons of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa.