6 April 2004 | lights-5
Exceptional Story, Flawed Film
I don't know how this film played when pruned to 115 minutes, but I just saw a 3 hour + version on cable. It is, like so many films of people in Europe sheltering and hiding Jews during WW II, a very moving and inspiring story. I had no idea how many of Italy's Jews were saved, primarily by the Catholics, especially the church itself.
The film is slow, and the real hardships that many Jews must have experienced in Italy is barely touched upon, but it still is a story that is fascinating.
There is the very real appeal of Assisi and Perugia, Italy. I was reminded of the wonderful scenes in San Gimignano in "Tea With Mussolini."
I found Ben Cross's performance uneven, but mostly fine as the padre, but Maximillian Schell steals the movie from everyone with his layered portrayal of the German Catholic doctor who is in control of Assisi.
In a film of this length, I wanted to see more than just the group in Assisi, but obviously the Golan-Globus budget didn't allow for more locations.
In all, I'm very grateful the film was made, and am glad I saw it, especially in the long version.