Jon Avnet's "Uprising" is truly a great film to watch. It is not your usual gloomy, depressing Holocaust movie.
Directors: Jon Avnet
Producers: Jon Avnet, Raffaella De Laurentiis
Writers: Paul Brickman, Jon Avnet
Features: 2 Documentaries: "Resistance" and "Breaking Down the Walls: The Road to Recreating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising;" 2 Feature-length Commentaries: One with Director/Co-Writer Jon Avnet, and the other with stars Hank Azaria, David Schwimmer, Leelee Sobieski, and Jon Voight; Interactive Menus; Cast/Crew Film Highlights; Scene Access; 2 Trailers; Subtitles: English, French, & Spanish; Enhanced Features for DVD-ROM PC: Web Events, Web Site/Chat Room Access
Tosia Altman - Leelee Sobieski
Mordechai Anielewicz - Hank Azaria
Yitzhak Zuckerman - David Schwimmer
Major-General Jurgen Stroop - Jon Voight
Adam Czerniakow - Donald Sutherland
Dr. Fritz Hippler - Cary Elwes
Jon Avnet's "Uprising" is truly a great film to watch. It is not your usual gloomy, depressing Holocaust movie. "Uprising" is a film that tries to change the perspective of Holocaust Jews as passive and weak. I think that it succeeds in this movie.
The 2 disc DVD set is packed full of features including two very interesting documentaries. I am a big WWII buff, and seeing some of the old footage from the war and how they modeled the ghetto after that was educational. The two commentary tracks were also informative, but you have to watch the movie twice to get them. I thought it was interesting to note that Jon Voight, though a major figure in the film, never interacted with the other commentators. Sound and picture are very good, considering this was originally a TV film.
"Uprising" begins with a quasi-documentary style on how the Nazis invaded Poland, and the surrender of the Poles within less than a month. Then we are subjected to ghetto conditions and the treatment of the Jews. Already you are seeing Jews who are resistant to their oppressors, but also those who want to work with the Nazis. Adam Czerniakow (Sutherland - "Outbreak"), the chairman of the Jewish Council, is hoping that by cooperating with the Nazis will win them less punishment. History tells us that this cooperative attitude was to keep Jews pacified and from rebelling. The slogan of "Work will make you free" was the Jews hope that if they worked, they would be given freedom soon. We all know that is not the case, and there were Jews that resisted.
When the Nazis start deporting Jews by the truckloads, the resistance forms. They make plans to gather arms and defeat the Nazis as best they can. Holocaust stories rarely have happy endings, but this one stays hopefull and uplifting amidst the horrors that surround the Jews.
"Uprising" is no "Schindler's List." This is not a movie describing so much the treatment of the Jews and the Nazis' cruelty, but the heroics and strength of the Jewish resistance. The movie is slightly choppy at the beginning, but this seems in line with the documentary style Avnet was striving to achieve. One criticism I have is that Hank Azaria's character should not have been so muscular, considering he was short for food. Pictures of ghetto residents that were taken are those of starving individuals that are thin and sickly. The same would go for the well fed Leelee Sobieski. These two faults can be overlooked due to constraints on time and budgeting for the movie. However, I can't explain the fact that there must have been limitless supplies of hair gel for David Schwimmer's character, as his hair is perfectly coiffed throughout the film. The women all have greasy looking hair, but Schwimmer looked like he was picture perfect in each shot.
The actors all performed their parts well, and though the accents were annoying at first, I eventually got used to them. Kudos go to Hank Azaria and Jon Voight for the best performances, but Schwimmer, Sobieski, and Sutherland did well also. Cary Elwes character was new as I had never heard of him before. His role seemed most insidious, as he was in charge of making sure that average citizens believed the Nazi propaganda and hated Jews.
I would rate "Uprising" with 3.5 stars out of 5, and would recommend anyone to see it. It is very educational and informative.