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DIVIDED WE FALL

SYNOPSIS:
Josef and Marie Cizek (Bolislav Polivka and Anna Siskova), a childless couple living in an occupied Czechoslovakian town during World War II, secretly give shelter to David (Csongor Kassai), a young man who has escaped from a concentration camp. Family friend Horst (Jaroslev Dusek), a Nazi sympathizer who has amorous intentions toward Marie, suspects something and wants them to take a boarder. Marie protests that they cannot, pretending she is pregnant, despite the fact that Josef is sterile. Now that she needs to become pregnant the question remains as to who the father will be and whether David's presence can be kept a secret.

If a movie about a Jew hiding in the pantry for two years seems an unlikely premise for a crowd-pleaser, Divided We Fall proves otherwise. Jan Hrebejk's winning slice of small town life in the midst of extraordinary events is a welcome addition to the recent crop of comic-oriented tales of Jewish persecution in WW2. What's pleasing about films such as Train of Life and this one is their ability to inject humour into Holocaust-related stories without diluting the horror behind such appalling genocide. The broad strokes here are rather less than subtle - the childless couple are named Josef and Marie and Nazi sympathiser Horst sports a Hitler moustache - but the smaller details are where the treasures lie. Hrebejk rejects the easy path and doesn't make Horst simply a Nazi-loving monster and the married couple and their secret boarder saints. What he delivers is a more complex analysis of ordinary people's behaviour in extraordinary circumstances. Horst's alignment with the occupying Nazis is driven by survival instinct more that ideological commitment and, until David's arrival, the Cizeks have shut themselves away from events outside their front door. There are many humorous moments - David hiding from Horst under Marie's bedclothes among them - and fine performances from a cast who deliver laughs while always reminding us of the terror beneath. Although the pace slackens somewhat in the middle stages this comes home strongly and leaves a lasting, uplifting impression.
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

DIVIDED WE FALL (MA)
(Czech)

CAST: Bolek Polivka, Csongor Kassai, Jaroslav Dusek, Anna Siskova

PRODUCERS: Pavel Borovan

DIRECTOR: Jan Hrebejk

SCRIPT: Jan Hrebejk, Petr Jarchovsky (screenplay), Petr Jarchovsky (story)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jan Malir

EDITOR: Vladimir Barak

MUSIC: Ales Brezina

ART DIRECTION: Milan Bycek

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney : December 6, 2001; Melbourne: January 3, 2002

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: AV Channel

VIDEO RELEASE: August 7, 2002







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