The Stream: A little slow and repetitive
The Big Screen: Powerful depictions, storytelling, and acting
The Final Bill: A powerful story of love, choices, and the atrocities suffered in the Holocaust– S2S: Movie Review
Director: Barry Levinson
Writers: Justine Juel Gillmer (screenplay), Alan Scott Haft (based on the book)
Stars: Ben Foster, Billy Magnussen, Vicky Krieps, John Leguizamo, Peter Sarsgaard
Genre: Biography, Drama
Rating: R (disturbing violent content, language and some nudity)
Runtime: 2 hours 4 minutes
Production Companies: New Mandate Files, BRON Studios, Creative Wealth Media Finance, HBO
Platform: Released April 27, 2022 on HBO Max
Welcome back, Streamers. This weekend HBO Max either graced us with a super late Oscar -movie or a super early one, The Survivor. The movie follows post World War II, Harry (Hertzko) Haft who fought fellow prisoners in the concentration camps to survive and has now made a boxing career out of it in the United States. Harry is traumatized and haunted by his memories and the guilt of his choices during his time at Auschwitz. One thing keeps Harry going is the hope that he will find his long-lost love from before the concentration camps. Let’s travel through time with Harry.
Holocaust movies are particularly difficult to watch, but The Survivor can be quite beautiful. The scenery, set design, costume design are all great. For example, there is one scene at the pier where there are literally 100 extras for the set to work around and dress. It was very remarkable. The scenes in the concentration camps, even though in black and white (or grayscale), could be silent and tell a whole story in itself. You can feel the hunger and the pain of the prisoners. It is the closest thing to the actual Holocaust museum that I’ve seen on the big screen. I mean the transformation of the main actor’s character during the different times tells the story in itself. Must have been a labor of love to lose that much weight for this particular role.
Furthermore, the dialogue and actual moral conundrums are just heartbreaking to watching. The talk about life and death choices, anvil or the hammer, etc. are some very powerful topics explored, which can be particularly relevant when we see such unjust wars like what Russia is doing to Ukraine currently. The other storyline about what it looks like to love someone is also quite compelling. One might say that this can all be summed up as the exploration of the power of love. How far will love for a friend, family member, crush take you? It was really a beautiful depiction in many forms.
If you’re interested look up some more information on Harry Haft https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Haft
It’s quite easy to see that The Survivor is an easy pick for a big box of popcorn whether streaming or in the movie theater. We happen to only have to go to HBO Max for this but it’s worth it. The movie is moving and painful to watch but worth the uncomfortable depiction. Sometimes we need to be reminded that there is more to fight for, worst things that can happen, and the choices we make have consequences. Make the right choice and watch The Survivor.