1960 [ITALIAN]

Drama / War

IMDb Rating 7.6 10 1932

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
December 16, 2020 at 04:47 PM


Susan Strasberg as Edith, alias Nicole Niepas
1 GB
English 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 51 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by JohnSeal 9 / 10


Only the survivors of the Holocaust can tell us what the concentration camp experience was really like, but Kapo is probably as close as cinema can get to recreating the numbing horrors of the camps--and that includes Schindler's List. Susan Strasberg is superb as Edith, the Jewish teenager who is saved by chance and then becomes a collaborator in order to survive. The film's greatest strength is its ability to make us comprehend the forces that compelled inmates to become kapos--the Nazi equivalent of prison trustees--and almost (but not quite) makes us sympathize with them. Snatched from the jaws of the gas chamber only to have the power of life and death thrust upon them, the kapos did what they had to do in order to survive--and who amongst us would not take that same chance if thrust into the heart of Nazi darkness. This incredibly powerful film is filled with astonishing imagery, none more powerful than the scene of Edith/Nicole watching helplessly as her parents are forced to jog to their demise amidst a crowd of children and elderly inmates--people who are inessential to the Reich's war machine. This important film, long forgotten in the United States, has now been unearthed by Turner Classic Movies, and hopefully a DVD is not far behind.

Reviewed by howard.schumann 7 / 10

A realistic picture of life in a concentration camp

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1960, Gillo Pontecorvo's second film Kapo features Susan Strasberg as a Holocaust victim who decides that she will do anything to survive, even join the enemy. Kapo, which stands for Kameradenpolizei, refers to death camp collaborators who are recruited from the "criminal element" to supervise other prisoners in return for better treatment and more privileges. Pontecorvo, who fought in the Italian Resistance as a member of the Communist Party, presents a realistic picture of what life in a concentration camp must have been like but no movie can fully capture the madness and inevitably any attempt to dramatize it must take on aspects of melodrama.

Strasberg, who had played the title role in The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway several years earlier, portrays Edith, a 14-year old Jewish girl who is sent to a concentration camp with her parents when Jews are rounded up in Paris. After watching her parents die in the gas chambers along with other women and children, Sofia, a friend, introduces Edith to the camp doctor who provides her with a new identity as the non-Jewish Nicole. Cutting her hair and dressing her in the work clothes of a prisoner that died that morning, she is sent to a labor camp where she witnesses repeated horrors including the hanging of a young girl for alleged sabotage.

Desperate to stay alive, she offers herself to a German soldier Karl (Gianni Garko). Although little about this relationship is developed, it leads to Nicole accepting the job of a Kapo, and the victim becoming a victimizer, brutally enforcing the camp's harsh rules on her fellow prisoners. It is only when she witnesses the suicide of a close friend Terese (Emanuelle Riva) and falls in love with Sascha (Laurent Terzieff), a Russian prisoner of war, that she is able to redeem the human values that had once been an integral part of her life. Much of this happens over a period of time but the passage of time is not shown and Nicole's transformation from a loving young girl to a bullying camp guard seems too quick and facile to be truly convincing, and there is little self-reflection in the process. The experience gained in this film, however, paved the way for Pontecorvo's masterpiece The Battle of Algiers, only a few years after.

Reviewed by DumaNV 9 / 10

Excellent Character Study of Lost Innocence

Quite an excellent character study of what people will do to survive. Although not as powerful as other prisoner of war films such as "Seven Beauties" it stands out because of the performances of all the women and especially Susan Strasberg who does a magnificent job starting out as the young innocent girl, hiding the fact that she is Jewish, a bewildering task, and her agonizing evolution into a hardened guard.

Don't look for huge sets and gruesome scenes of gas chambers and ovens here. It's not that type of film. It's a simple story of the slow chipping away of humanity that dire conditions force. Dignity and nobility give way to cruelty and inhumanity and simple survival becomes a thing to justify as time goes on. By telling this type of story through the eyes of a young impressionable person is excellent.

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