Escape from Sobibor is a true life story set during the second world war, concerned, like “Schindlers List” with the human cost of the Nazi atrocities now known as the holocaust, which, despite what some would have you believe, concerned the extermination of thousands of Jews for no other reason bar that they were Jews.
Escape From Sobibor was made as a TV movie, it was given a high budget and has a stellar cast headed by the unlikely pairing of Rutger Hauer and Alan Arkin, both of whom sometimes appear to have been left to their own devices by director Jack Gold.
Gold is a master storyteller however and succeeds in invisibly heightening the tension again and again without the audience really realising it has happened. Before long therefore you are on the edge of your seat. The storyline concerns the only successful mass escape attempt from a German death camp and the trueness of the story gives the suspense an added frisson as Arkin and Hauer’s characters, Leon and Sacha start working together to become the leaders of the escape, always in danger of being discovered and killed by the German oppressors. It’s a story, like so many from the holocaust of genuine heroism and self sacrifice and the film packs a very powerful punch.
Leon and Sacha eventually manage to liberate about half of the prisoners, killing several Germans in the process and forcing the eventual closure of the camp, a moral as well as human victory over a brutal regime. The film does not shy away from showing the horror and sheer brutality of the treatment that was regularly meted out to the prisoners and though these scenes are sometimes graphic and always difficult to watch, they make the overall victory all the more uplifting and are never gratuitous.
It’s one of the most cohesive movies I have ever seen, everything is seamless and geared towards the storytelling. There are no star performances, everyone is giving of their believable best and the direction is almost as transparent as the editing, showing real skill on the part of Gold. There’s no over sentimentality either which for some ruined “Schindler’s List” and indeed one could argue that this is a far more powerful retelling of a Holocaust story than that multi award winning film. If you want a great story, well told with some amazingly understated acting on display then watch this and then watch it again. Highly recommended.
Wins: Golden Globes
Nominations: Emmy Awards