Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Poland/Germany/United Kingdom, 1990. British Broadcasting Corporation, Erato Films, Erbograph Co., Regina Ziegler Filmproduktion, Telmar Films Intl., Zespol Filmowy “Perspektywa”, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. Screenplay by Agnieszka Holland. Cinematography by Robby Muller. Produced by Janusz Morgenstern, Willi Segler, Daniel Toscan du Plantier, Regina Ziegler. Music by Wojciech Kilar. Production Design by Allan Starski. Costume Design by Wieslawa Starska. Film Editing by Ewa Smal.
This true story tells of a Polish Jew in World War II who ran an orphanage and school with utmost devotion and dedication. When the Nazis invade Poland and his livelihood is put at risk, he is advised to clear out of the country and save his hide. Thinking of the two hundred homeless children under his protection, Janusz Korczak (born Henryk Goldszmit) refuses to budge and instead makes do with the best possible circumstances when his school is moved into the Warsaw ghetto under severely compromised circumstances. The production design is accurate and effective, and viewers who have seen Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (made twelve years later) will note that the settings look almost identical except for Andrzej Wajda’s using black and white photography here. Wojciech Pszoniak is excellent in the lead role, one which calls him to be tender, vulnerable, ruthless and heroic, far too few words to describe the spirit of the man whose story is being told. A finale pulled straight out of fantasy only adds to the heartbreaking tragedy of this powerful film.