In this charming, poignant story of hope and determination, Alex, an 11-year-old Jewish boy survives by his wits after escaping the Nazi invasion of the Polish Ghetto where he lived with his father and great uncle during World War II.

After managing to run away when the Nazi’s are attempting to clear the whole area, Alex takes refuge in an abandoned building on Bird Street where he waits for his father’s return. His only companion is a pet mouse, “Snow”, who is not only a comforting companion for a young boy, but also a resource for finding food that was left hidden in abandoned kitchens. During the weeks that Alex is left on his own, the Nazi’s return to the ghetto several times to round up Jews who escaped the first sweep, and the places to hide become fewer and fewer as the Germans destroy buildings. But Alex manages to evade capture.

The harsh realities of what occurred during this dark period in history are not spared in this film that is somewhat reminiscent of Schindler’s List, and it is not a movie to watch for simple entertainment. It reminds the viewer of what happened to the Jews during the  Holocaust, and what some of them were forced to do to survive. Yet it is also a film of hope, trust, and even delight as Alex learns how to be more and more resourceful in his efforts to elude the Nazi’s and find food, water, and shelter.

The film is also a visual treat with great cinematography that highlights the horrible conditions of the ghettos of that time and place. The artful filming and directing also vividly captures the sense of abandonment that Alex must have felt in those first few days alone. One of the scenes starts from a long shot of the empty street with a single piece of trash blowing across the cobblestones, and the visual analogy cannot be missed.

The film was an American Danish co-production, April Productions, and was originally released in 1997, featuring the young English actor,  Jordan Kiziuk  in a stunning performance as Alex,  Co-stars include Patrick Bergin, Jack Warden and James Bolam. Danish director Søren-Kragh Jacobsen directed the film. It is based on a true story and a book of the same name and written by Uri Orlev — Winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing.

 

ISLAND ON BIRD STREET

Running Time - 102 Minutes
Rated - PG- 13
Street Date - 4/1/08
Sound: 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround
SRP: $28.98
Special Features: Previews, Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Distributed by First Look Studios  t www.firstlookstudios.com.

Maryann Miller — Maryann’s Blog

 

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