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.
spacetime coordinates: June 1943 – July 1944 Lwów city, Poland
(this one’s heavy)
In Darkness (Polish: W ciemności) is a 2011 Polish drama film directed by Agnieszka Holland. Dedicated to Marek Edelman, the film is a Polish-German-Canadian coproduction, with a screenplay by Canadian writer David F. Shamoon. In Darkness is based on the book In the Sewers of Lvov (1990) by Robert Marshall. The only living survivor of the group, Krystyna Chiger, has written a memoir of her experience, The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust’s Shadow (2008), which was published too late to be a source
Based on true events during German occupation of Poland, the film tells a story of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker in the then Polish city of Lwów (taken after World War II by the Soviet Union, and now part of Ukraine), who used his knowledge of the city’s sewer system to shelter a group of Jews escaped from Lwów’s ghetto during the German extermination of Jewish people.
“‘These were terrible times’: the true story behind In Darkness”
spacetime coordinates: Venice, 1596
The Merchant of Venice is a 2004 romantic drama film based on Shakespeare‘s play of the same name. It is the first full-length sound film in English of Shakespeare’s play
The title character is the merchant Antonio (Jeremy Irons), not the Jewish moneylender Shylock (Al Pacino) who is the more prominent character. This adaptation follows the text, but omits much. Director Michael Radford believed that Shylock was Shakespeare’s first great tragic hero who reaches a catastrophe due to his own flaws. The film begins with text and a montage of how the Jewish community is abused by the Christian population of Venice and brings attention to the fact that, as a convert, Shylock would have been cast out of the Jewish ghetto in Venice.
(trivia) the bare-breasted prostitutes were not put in the film to make it more risqué, but rather to add a note of historical authenticity. Venetian law at the time required all prostitutes to bare their breasts because the Christian authorities were concerned about rampant homosexuality in their city.
spacetime coordinates: Kraków during World War II
Schindler’s List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. The film relates a period in the life of Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German businessman, during which he saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern.
Due to the increased interest in Kraków created by the film, the city bought Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory in 2007 to create a permanent exhibition about the German occupation of the city from 1939 to 1945. The museum opened in June 2010.