| Reel World
'Walking with the Enemy' reveals another Holocaust hero
It seems that Hollywood has an inexhaustible supply of World War II and Holocaust backdrops for movies.
In recent months alone we have "The Book Thief" and "Monuments Men" that are set in that era.
While those movies didn't have clear-cut heroes, the most recent entry into the genre, "Walking with the Enemy," does. Several, actually.
The movie, based on a true story, has as its main character a young Jewish man named Elek (Jonas Armstrong), the son of a rabbi.
The movie's bookends depict happy times: young people dancing to big band music in Budapest at the start, in 1944, and a wedding in New York City at the end, around 1957.
But there is little joy between in scenes that are all too familiar.
Elek is living in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944, enjoying life and his work in a radio repair shop when the Nazis descend on the city and he is forced to go to a labor camp. He escapes the brutality of the camp and returns to his devastated hometown only to find his home has been destroyed, and his family is nowhere in sight.
In Budapest he finds the radio shop abandoned, as Jewish shops have been emptied and destroyed. He reunites with Hannah, whom he met at the dance at the start of the movie. He also gets a job through her uncle, who works at The Glass House, an old glass factory that has been turned into a print shop for Swiss protective documents for Jews. The documents, which spare Jews from being sent off to death camps, were originally meant just for Jews with Swiss ties, but when the scope of the Nazi intrusion becomes evident, they are delivered to many more Jews.
Elek becomes part of the Jewish underground movement that delivers these documents. When Budapest is taken over by the Nazis, thousands of Jews are also able to take refuge in The Glass House.
Elek obtains the uniform of an SS officer and infiltrates Nazi ranks to save hundreds of Jews, intervening on killings and diverting Jews to safe ground. He does this by mimicking the intimidation tactics he's seen employed by Nazis and Nazi sympathizers.
The film has many heroes, including Elek and his cohorts; Carl Lutz, the founder of The Glass House; nuns and priests who sheltered Jews; and a Nazi officer in Budapest who was sympathetic to the Jews.
At the start, the movie looks like a love story between Anna and Elek. But, as the country they once knew becomes embroiled in fascism and anti-Semitism, the cast increases to include Nazi heavies, like Adolf Eichmann, and those fighting to maintain the old Hungary, like the regent Miklos Horthy (yet another fine performance by the versatile Ben Kingsley).
The years, locations and characters are explained in subtitles, which helps clarify the scenarios but also cheapens the film. The scenes are realistic enough, though they seldom reach the sort of horrifying impact of movies like "Schindler's List," and the movie never reaches any emotional peaks.
While we get to see Elek's passion in risking his life for his people, he and others aren't fleshed out enough, partly due to some rather generic dialogue and too wide of a scope. When Hannah asks him, "Why are you doing this?" (risking his life), Elek replies with the hero's cliche: "I'm just doing what anyone would do."
That paint-by-numbers approach keeps "Walking with the Enemy" from moving up in the ranks of World War II/Holocaust films.
- 'Tammy' leaves no room for stellar cast
- 'Echo' loses heart in its frenetic pace
- Jersey Boys comes in right on pitch
- 'Dragon 2' a beautifully animated follow-up
- Movie review: 'Belle'
- Reel World: "Neighbors" 05/14/14
- Reel World: 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' 05/07/14
- Don't buy the hype; 'Draft Day' a big bust
- 'The Winter Soldier' packs a punch
- Not a good word for 'Bad Words'
- Reel World: 'Divergent' 03/26/14
- New 'Veronica Mars' good for a rental viewing
- 'Non-stop' endures turbulence, still fun
- Reel World 02/19/14
- Memorable story missing from 'Monuments Men'
- Reel World: 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' 01/22/14
- 'Anchorman' jokes will struggle to stand test of time
- Lake Theater 12/04/13 (Frozen)
- 'Catching Fire' a top-notch sequel
- "Thor: The Dark World" 11/13/13
Top stories from the Lake Country area. Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
AS IT APPEARED IN PRINT: PDF collection of Oconomowoc "Athletic Fields Forever" coverage.
Celebrate Lake Country
communities with stories
Do you have news or a nonprofit event that you would like to share with the community? Whether it's a community organization, a business, a local school, or a notable neighbor, we'd love to hear about it.
- 24th Annual Milwaukee/NARI Fall Home & Remodeling Show
- LEARN ABOUT COMMON CORE SEPT. 20
- Mukwonago's Bark for Life to Benefit American Cancer Society
- All God’s Children of Delafield Announces A New Playground Being Built; Special Participation Event Mon., Sept. 15
- Hamilton again on Newsweek’s “Best High Schools” list
- Public Hearing on Town of Merton Garbage Pickup
- Christ the King Church of Delafield Announces New Worship Schedule; Adds Singer/Guitarist/Songwriter Dave Gerhartz to Music Staff
- Household and Agricultural Hazardous Waste Special Collection: Saturday, September 13 – Oconomowoc
Lake Country residents share their views on news, happenings and current events.
LivingLakeCountry.com features more than a dozen community bloggers - a group of volunteer conversation leaders who are up on the latest topics and never short on an opinion. Just a few are pictured here. Check out the rest and see what they have to say!
View All Blogs
Do you want to become a Community Blogger? LivingLakeCountry.com welcomes your thoughts and opinions. Contact us for more information:
I want to blog