Truth, as the oft-repeated cliché goes, is stranger than fiction, and nowhere were elucidations of this truism starker than during the ghastly Nazi era when humanity had truly reached its nadir. The incredible survival story of the protagonist in Europa Europa –Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland’s smash classic – would have appeared fantastical and even ridiculous if not for the fact that it was based on Solomon Perel’s memoir, who’d escaped the Holocaust by masquerading as a Nazi. Solomon (Marco Hofschneider) moves from Berlin to Łódź with his parents after Kristallnacht, but he’s forced to escape when Wehrmacht invades Poland; and thus begins a series of spectacular episodes – getting shelter in a Soviet orphanage where he joins the Komsomol; identifying as an Aryan upon falling into Nazi hands where he earns a place for himself as a translator; inadvertently becoming a war hero, which earns him admission into an elite Hitler Youth military school. Ironically, he could have been fully assimilated into the Nazi order, but for an immutable aspect that set him apart, viz. foreskin, or rather, its lack thereof; and that, as Holland observed, essentially saved his soul; the disturbing implication of what might have entailed otherwise, especially if the war had ended differently, therefore, is worth pondering over. The film appeared goofy at times, albeit counterbalanced by the washed-out photography and minimalist score – but the picaresque elements, in a way, underscored the ludicrosity of those times. The darkly funny scene where the teenager has frenzied copulation on a train with a middle-aged rabid fascist teacher, who climaxes with exultant shrieks of “Mein Führer” since he shares his birthday with Hitler, was one of many delirious sequences in the film.
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Genre: Drama/Historical Drama/Biopic