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aka - Lauf Junge Lauf
Germany 2013
Directed by
Pepe Danquartes
112 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars

Run Boy Run

Synopsis: Nine year old Jewish boy Srulik (played by twins, Andrzej and Kamil Tkacz) escapes the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. He changes his name to Jurek Staniak, and embarks upon the epic task of surviving the next three years of the war. After nearly dying in the freezing snowbound forest, he goes from house to house, farm to farm, pretending he is a Christian and asking for work, food and shelter.  He experiences the gamut of human reaction, from kindness to cruelty, but worst of all the relentless obsessive attention of the Nazis who are ever on his trail.  

Adapted from a 2004 fact-based novel by Uri Orlev aimed at young adults this film will reach out to viewers of all ages with a power and emotion that stories of the Holocaust typically evoke.

Much has been written and spoken about the experiences of Jews in Poland and the fact that non-Jewish Poles were especially cruel to the Jews. This film takes a slightly more even-handed approach, showing that there is good and bad in us all. After a gruelling experience in the snow, young Jurek is taken in by Magda, (Elisabeth Duda) who nurses the boy back to strength and cares for him at the expense of her own safety. She also teaches him how  to appear to be a Christian. When he moves on, for all the doors shut in his face there are always those willing to reach out their hands and hearts and the boy is only too willing to earn his bed and meagre rations.The Nazis, with their relentless determination to annihilate Jews won’t give up on even one, so the poor child’s life is spent constantly in fear of being found out.

All the roles from small to large are beautifully performed, with authenticity of characters maintained by the variety of languages spoken: German, Yiddish and Polish particularly.  Rainer Bock plays an SS officer who crosses paths with Jurek and  knows full well the child is a Jew. Bock plays his role superbly, showing more equivocation than found in the usual Nazi stereotype.   But the film truly belongs to the Tkacz twins who share in the main role. Srulik/Jurek is a most beautiful child physically, and also plays a character with an extraordinary nature: kind, pleasing, intelligent, and most important of all, resilient. When a nasty accident befalls Jurek he still manages to maintain his dogged perseverance and determination to survive, the last thing his father ever exhorted him to do.

The cinematography by Daniel Gottschalk is also sweepingly epic with stunning landscapes and a feel for the era, with special emphasis on the life of farmers on the land. Amidst the tension, emotion and, in parts, grippingly suspenseful plot the film is at times almost like a meditation upon the beauty of Nature.

I am ever amazed that film-makers constantly uncover new stories that need to be told from this grim period of history. Run Boy Run is certainly a worthy addition to the library of sad, but sometimes hope-inspiring tales of the Holocaust.




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