spacetime coordinates: 1807 Kolberg (Kołobrzeg) // 1945 Germany
Kolberg is a 1945 German historical film directed by Veit Harlan. One of the last films of the Third Reich, it was intended as a Nazi propaganda piece to bolster the will of the German population to resist the Allies.
The film is based on the autobiography of Joachim Nettelbeck, mayor of Kolberg in Pomerania, and on a play drawn from the book by Paul Heyse. It tells the story of the defence of the besieged fortress town of Kolberg against French troops between mid-March and July 2, 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars. In reality, the city’s defense, led by then-Lieutenant Colonel August von Gneisenau, held out until the war was ended by the Treaty of Tilsit. In the film, the French abandon the siege.
spacetime coordinates: Germany in April, 1945
Fury is a 2014 American war film written and directed by David Ayer, and stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal and Jason Isaacs. The film portrays US tank crews in Nazi Germany during the final days of World War II. Ayer was influenced by the service of veterans in his family and by reading books, such as Belton Y. Cooper’s Death Traps, about American armored units in World War II and the high casualty rates suffered by tank crews in Europe.
Portrayal of history
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)
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
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.
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”