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  • "Toyland" is a film that works so brilliantly that it managed to be powerful, thought-provoking and even gut-wrenching than most Hollywood films that are 8 to 10 times longer. With sparse dialogue, director Jochen Alexander Freydank keeps us hooked throughout this superb short film.

    Set during the Holocaust, a German woman frantically searches for her son, who might have decided to accompany his Jewish neighbors to a Nazi concentration camp because the Jewish family's young son and her son are best friends.

    The film is elegantly shot and wonderfully acted. There is more poignancy and true emotion in this film than I have seen in most Hollywood films in recent times.

    Director Freydank moves his story along, with us always wondering not only what comes next but how this is going to end. And then comes the denouement: A truly remarkable twist that says much about the human spirit. It is a moment that will break your heart while simultaneously make you smile.

    If you have the chance to see this, and the other Oscar-nominated live action shorts, do yourself a favor and watch them. Believe me, it will be time much better spent than, say, on "New In Town" or most any other mainstream Hollywood film.
  • Today I went with three friends to a special showing of all the films nominated for the 2009 Oscar for Best Live Action Short. Oddly, the four of us were in pretty much agreement about the films. Our pick for best of the nominees was PIG ("Grisen"), though ON THE LINE ("Auf der Strecke") was a very good film and is nearly as deserving of the award. We predicted that TOYLAND ("Spielzeugland"), however, will win the award because it's the sort of the film the Academy tends to like AND because PIG might ruffle some feathers because it is not "politically correct". I'll update this review after the awards are given.

    TOYLAND is a film set during the Nazi era. A boy asks his mother about why all his neighbors (all Jews) are disappearing. She explains that everything is okay and that they have gone to "Toyland". Unfortunately, it sounds like such a nice place that the kid hopes to go there, too, and the film begins with him sneaking off with a shipment of Jews to the concentration camps because he wants to visit this magical place.

    Much of the film consists of the mother trying to find the boy and eventually the SS officers help her to try to locate the boy. This all ends in a marvelous twist that I won't reveal here, but this twist takes the film from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

    A lovely film that will probably win--in part, because the film is about an important subject that the Academy seems to like, the Holocaust (and highly reminiscent of LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL), and in part because it is so exceptionally well-crafted from start to finish. My only reservation is that the print was awfully dark--practically everything looked black at times. Perhaps it was just a bad print.

    UPDATE: It's official, TOYLAND is the winner. This didn't surprise me at all and it was well deserving of the award, though I was still pulling for PIG to take the honors.
  • sashank_kini-127 August 2011
    Usually, I don't watch short films but after seeing and reviewing about five feature films in three days, I needed to see a movie that could capture a gamut of emotions in few minutes and that is precisely what 'Toyland' does. It takes one of the most crucial periods in history - the holocaust and brings it down to the lives of two families and an incident that changes the course of their lives in the dark period.

    A mother finds her son Heinrich missing one day, after she tells him the previous day that their neighbors are moving to Toyland. The prospect of going to a place filled with toys titillates Heinrich and he gets too eager to go with the neighbors, which includes his best friend Paul. The first seven minutes oscillate between flashbacks of Heinrich's excitement and the mother's frantic search. This leads to an end that is so poignant, gripping, chilling and fascinating that it brought tears to my eyes. The fourteen minute film so effortlessly manages to touch the audiences that it truly deserves all the accolades that it has got. 8 out of 10.
  • synergy38617 February 2009
    I just saw Spielzeugland and recognized the whole plot almost from the beginning. I am positive I've seen it before, or read it. Does anyone else remember it? There was a Q&A with the writer and he didn't mention getting the plot from somewhere else. Anyone out there know this story from a maybe book or a t.v. show? That said, I did find it very moving and upsetting. The actress who played the mother did a fine job, as did the piano teacher. People may say holocaust-themed movies are overdone, but I don't think so; that era needs to be kept alive in peoples' minds so that it doesn't fade into oblivion as the final survivors die out. It's hard to believe the entire film is only l4 minutes long.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This short won the Academy Award for Live Action Short. There will be mild spoilers ahead:

    The basic premise of this short is that a Jewish family is about to be deported to a camp and when another boy whose best friend is among those going away asks his mother just where they're going, she tells him what she thinks is a comforting lie-that his friend David is going to "Toyland".

    Naturally, the other little boy, Heinrich, wants to go with his friend, only to be told by everyone that he can't go, with no real explanation, just that he can't go. He decides he's going, regardless of what anyone says and so he packs a bag and follows them to the train.

    His mother finds out he's missing and races off to find him before it's too late. She encounters unfeeling, uncaring neighbors and suspicious SS men, one of whom thinks shes Jewish herself. Ultimately, they believe that she's serious and they go to check the train.

    The ending of the short is quite good and should be seen. This short is on DVD/Blu-Ray as part of a compilation of Academy Award winning animated and live action shots released by Shorts International. The short itself is very good and the compilation is excellent. Most recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Toyland review, with spoilers.

    This is a dramatic movie. The lead roles were played by a mother, called Marianne, her son, called Heinrich, and her son's friend (a Jewish boy). The supporting characters were played by the Jewish boy's father and mother. It was set in a train station and block of flats. The movie had good acting, in two very strong scenes. One was the part where Marianne pretended that David was her son, risking to be discovered by the Nazis and also when his parents decided to give him to Marianne, knowing that doing this will save his life, even though it was a terrible pain, for them, to see her son with another mother. I think that is a great demonstration of love they have in their family. It shows the Jewish people's suffering in the war.

    The plot was about a child who lived in Germany in 1942 and he had a Jewish friend, called David. They played the piano together and spent a lot of time together. Heinrich, the German boy, insistently asked her mother where his friend was going to. She finally answered that he was going to Toyland because his Jewish father had a new job. Heinrich mother's said "Toyland" since she didn't want to say "concentration camp". Her son wanted to go to Toyland with his Jewish fiend because he thought it was a place full of toys and they could have fun there. One day Marianne didn't find her son and she looked for him very nervously but she couldn't find him in his bedroom. She went to the street and asked the police for him and then she went running to the train station. There, she talked to the soldiers and then they went to a wagon. There she didn't find Heinrich but she found David and she saved him because if she didn't do it, the Jewish boy would have died in the concentration camp. Then she went back to her house with Heinrich's friend and the three of them lived together.
  • Kirpianuscus30 September 2017
    the films about Shoah are many. but "Toyland" is different. for its intensity. for its switch. for the exploration of an explanation and a fundamental decision. and, sure, for something who remains out of words. because it is a film about hope. and about miracle in a form who seems so easy to define than remains deep way impressive. a mother, her son, theirs neighbors.and a piano. nothing more but enough for a so intense film, profound provocative, than it becomes a serious challenge for the viewer. to become himself. in better version.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is what the little German boy shouts when he is given back to his mother and taken away from his best friend who is about to go on a journey to Toyland. Obviously he is going somewhere else, a much darker place and even if little Heinrich does not exactly understand what is going on, he still realizes that it has to be something sinister. This 14-minute short was written and directed by Jochen Alexander Freydank and won an Academy Award and many many other prizes at film festivals all around the globe. It is a bit sad to see that, to this date, Freydank (and his co-writer) have not managed to build on that Oscar win at all in terms of full feature films, although he has been more prolific in recent years than right after the big victory. So maybe there is hope. Julia Jäger, on the other hand, the lead actress has been very prolific before and after this film.

    I personally thought this was a good short movie. The actor who played the Jew father did a very fine job without even talking and the rest of the cast were all solid too. The best (most ironic) moment is when the Nazi officer apologizes to the mother for the unlucky circumstances right in the face of hundreds of Jews who are about to go on their last journey. What I did not like that much was that it is not narrated in chronological order. I guess otherwise my rating may have been even better. And the mother is not the smartest either if she believes she can keep the son from joining his best friend by telling there are huge teddy bears in Toyland. Obviously, the whole Toyland idea was a massive lie to confront her son not with the evil that was going on (if she was understanding it herself), but the consequence of this lie was finally that little Heinrich was confronted with it as much as it could have happened. Good movie. Recommended.
  • b-961283 March 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film is based on the sad history, discrimination, and massacre of Jewish people. There are two boys who like to play the piano, one is Jewish, and the other one Heinrich is not, and they are best friends. One day, Heinrich's mother finds that her son is gone, and misunderstands that he went with his friend because she used to tell him they are going to the Toyland. She asks and explains to police that her son is gone and she is not Jewish, and she finally reaches the train carrying only Jewish people. The door is opened, but Heinrich is not there, the boy stands there was the friend. Then she understands everything, and she is pretending that he is Heinrich and saves the friend. When I was watching that scene, I was so nervous and felt my heart beats so fast. It was so relieving to see that kids are saved, but still questionable that this kind of things is not likely happening. I liked it because the structure of this film and acting are wonerful.
  • I didn't expect to be so intensely moved by a short film of merely 12-minute runtime. I knew that it'd be sad just by judging from its description, but the way it achieved to capture the entire story in such a short duration was surely remarkable.

    I also admired how it used flashbacks to cement the relationship of the boys while also carrying the plot forward by showing the moments leading up to the present at appropriate intervals.

    The scenes of the present benefited from the cinematography and cold colours which helped in building an air of urgency and desperation. On the other hand, the flashbacks employed warmer colours and more relaxed images while also offering an air of the silence before the storm.

    Certain scenes of interaction between the characters definitely stood out, notably those involving Henrich and David. Speaking of the kids, I particularly loved their friendship, and it easily made the entire thing even more emotionally touching.

    There is a twist towards the end, which thoroughly surprised me because I was too involved in the story.

    Also, while others may find the music a little too on the nose, I really did like it.

    Overall, I really liked the short, and it drove me to tears.
  • The storyline is exciting despite the short duration of movie. The intrigue is remained until the last minute. The atmosphere of WWII is clearly conveyed. It is really hard to predict from the beginning how the movie would end.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The story is about Jewish mother and her son. One day, the mother finds out her son is not in the bed in the morning. She thinks he is picked up by German police for Holocaust with her Jewish neighborhood. In my opinion, the point of this short film is time series. Because of it, the story is not simple to understand, however, by not showing the scene that Heinlish fails to follow David's family until the last part, audiences grasp when the mother sees David became more effective. The old hands playing the piano in the very last scene is touching one, however, I could not understand the choices of the pictures after that. There are pictures of David's family, Heinlish and her mother, and one more. If they show the pictures at the end, I thought they could be some meaning or message through it. Overall, I like the glassy atmosphere of the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a short film directed by Jochen Alexander Freydank. First of all, I like this film very much. The story of this film is somewhat similar to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. There are two boys, one is a Jew and the other is a German. In the morning a Jew boy is taken away for "Toy Land", a German boy is found missing from his room. A mother of the missing German boy tries to find him, and encounters a Jew family. The opening scene and the last scene both of which two boys playing the piano is wonderful. Piano needs both black keyboards and white keyboards. If one is missing, it cannot be workout. I thought this relationship of black keyboards and white keyboards of piano expresses the relationship of Jew and German. The lie the Jew mother tells is similar to the lie of Life is Beautiful. It is a white lie. However, it sometimes hurt children. I think the director is awesome because he expresses really important things about the bonds of people in the age of holocaust in very short length of movie, which is only 13 minutes long. I really want everyone to see this film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I think that this short film reflects the historical background well so that the audience is naturally attracted to its real-like setting. However, I would have to admit that although the casting and the backgrounds of this film is well made, the storyline is not organized well in the following two aspects. First, it would be quite unlikely for a little kid to sneaks out of his room in the early morning without being noticed by any family members in his house, and it is often the case with such a young boy that he forgets the words he tells others yesterday. Furthermore, as the scene where the German police officers bring mother to the train which is about to leave to the concentration camp in order to find let her find her son, it is dubious whether this kind of situation could really happen at that time. Therefore, even though I like the music, actors and the well-reflection of the history of this short film, I admit that it still can be improved in terms of the scenario.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Toyland is a short film taking place Nazi Germany which portrays Jewish people's internment. There are two German and Jewish boys who like playing the piano together and one day they know the Jewish boy and his family will be taken to the place "toyland", which is German mother names to hide the cruel fact which is internment. She has tried to persuade his son however, in the early morning, he left his home with Jewish family secretly because he has promised that he will do anything together with the Jewish boy and be attracted to toyland. I love this film, especially the way to reveal the fact. For example, until the middle of the film, I cannot know if the mother and his son are German or Jewish, or why and how the boy leaves his home even though the story goes forward. Since this film has a bit complex structure, I sometimes get confused, however, it makes me more surprised or feel thrilled when I know those facts or background information after or while the story goes on. I also like the shot in which the mother takes the son's friend since she does not find his real son. There is no conversation in this shot, however, the friend's parents' and the German mother's facial expression shows that their deep love to their son and strong determination.
  • The background of this story is during of war in Germany. At the beginning of this story, two children are playing the piano. They spent a good time, so this film seems so peaceful. However, their situation is changing to danger. This film is a good way to show the terribleness of war to the audience. Many people die or hurt by World war two. Especially, at that period, the politics of Nazis is so aggressive. However, many years passed and people tend to forget that tragedy. This is a very emotional and impressive film and the lengths are not so long. Therefore, I think this film is a good educational material of history class. I recommend it to watch many people.I wish worlds never repeat the tragedy in the future. I would like to watch it again!
  • silvayuki2 March 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    ***This review may contain spoilers*** The short film Toyland is a story about a German family and a Jewish family. Since this film doesn't go chronologically, audiences need to keep paying attention to understand it. For example, at the beginning, aa boy is gone and his mohter goes ot find him, but next scene is very different situation. Also, this film shows how the discrimination against Jewish people by German people was like. In the film, Jewish people are insulted by police as if ther are not humans. In additon, they are taken to "Toyland." This is a secret language that the mother uses to her son. Definitely, "Toyland" is Aushwitz. I have seen some pictures of it and I was shocked by the disastrous scene. One thing I couldn't understand was the scene that German boy and his friend's father who is Jewish are talking about their secret. I couldn't get what the "rhinoceros" means. Overall, this film was very goodfor me since it was moving and let me think about the history.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is Natzi Germany, the friend of Heinrich who is Jewish will be send to the concentration camps. The mother told Heinrich that the Jewish boy is going to "toyland". Heinrich wants to go to " toyland " as well and one day he disappears. The movie has a really mechanical scene changes telling two sides of the story . The part that the mother is looking for the disappeared Heinrich and the scene of setup and revealing the truth. In the begging is a little confusing but you definitely understand the story by the end. I thought, although, that the way of storytelling could be more less mechanical. The beginning could be less tensioned than it. I liked that you realize in the end that the mother's actions are the key of the story. She is the one who said the "toyland" thing which caused Heinrich curiosity and make him run away. She is the one during the accion of looking for the boy. In the end, she is the one who save the other boy. It was not intentionally but her actions result saving the Jewish kid.
  • Mr_Waffles1 March 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    Review may contain spoilers. Toyland is about a young boy who wants to join his best friend on his journey to Toyland. Unbeknownst to the boy, Toyland is not the magical place he thinks it is, but is in fact a concentration camp. The boy soon disappears and his mother goes searching for him, hoping to find him before he takes an unfortunate journey. This short film builds a lot of tension into the idea that the woman may be too late to save her son. There is a nice twist at the end of the panic that makes this short film a worthwhile watch. Overall, Toyland does something in its small runtime that very few feature length films can and that is get you invested in what is going to happen. I would definitely recommend watching Toyland. You can easily find it on YouTube and it runs for about 15 minutes.
  • m28l17d28 February 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    This short film is about discrimination and the massacre of Jewish people. The main character is a young boy who is learning how to play the piano. There is his friend, and they are the best friend and learn how to play the piano together. One day, the boy's mother finds that her son is gone. She gets panic and asks people around her about her son. Around that time, the people who are caught by the government are only Jewish. She goes to police and being asked that she is also Jewish, but she proves she is not a Jewish. They go to the train that carries Jewish people. In the bunch of Jewish people, the mother finds a boy. She thinks that is her son, but the boy was the son's best friend. His parents are also there. They are a Jewish family and about to be sent to the Holocaust. The mother notices that he is not her son, but keeps pretending that is her son, and save the boy from going there. This movie gives a surprising ending, and I like it. It is about one of the biggest and the most shocking events in human history so that the ending may be too light. While the plot is well planned, so I like the film overall.
  • fefe22227 February 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Toyland" is a short film which is about a German boy who follows his Jewish friend who is actually going to a concentration camp. The boy thinks the friend is going to "Toyland" because his mother lies so and he believes the lie.

    I personally liked this film because it was very emotional and touching. The film shows what really happened in Germany during Second World War without any violent scenes. The film successfully conveys the sadness and the darkness of what actually happened.

    The film was also about friendship between the German boy and the Jewish boy. I felt really sad because, for them, the difference of their races do not matter, and friend is friend. I realized what happened at that time was really cruel.

    What I also liked about the film is that it was not chronological order. The film is from two sides: what happens to the boy and what happens to his mother. I enjoyed not only the story itself but also the switches of the viewpoints.
  • momorytm25 February 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    A little German boy and his neighborhood little Jewish boy are good friends like blood brother. One day, a German boy tries to go on a trip to Toyland with his best friend. The tone of the film was really dark and it can be told by the filter and the music in film. And, the title not only shows a keyword in film but also effectively contradicts with the theme and emphasize the grief represented in the film. At first glance, I cannot follow what is happening because the film does not follow the chorological order. And, I am still wondering whether the mother saves her neighborhood child intentionally from the beginning or notices that his child is not on train and saves his neighborhood child unintentionally. But, I still have a question about the consequence either way. I think that the mother saves him simply for his son and the Jewish parents. Yet, I sense that there is still more important factor in the scene of meeting the Jewish kid on a train. Overall, this film makes us think about the history of Jewish people and Nazi Germany and reminds us not to make it such tragedy again.
  • b-8849419 February 2019
    The story is based on the German history of Jewish persecution controlled by the Nazi. In the movie, the two boys keep their lifelong friendship because a mother's mercurial brilliance helps a child not to go to "the Toyland." I like the story process of this movie, especially how she saves her children. The depiction of the mother, brave, wise and risk-taking woman is beautifully drawn in the film. I was into the film the entire time; however, at some point, it was a little confusing to catch up with the story because of the complexity of the timeline. The flashback and going-on event or the past and present are back and forth in the middle, which may make the audience lost; on the other hand, we are successfully drawn into the cinematic world and feel uneasy, thrill or anxious as the character senses. Also, I felt relaxed and comfortable at the end although the content of the movie contains heavy topic such as the Nazi control happened in Germany. It is because the beginning and ending are unified resonated together: two persons' playing the piano. Thanks to the beauty of the music, the movie appears as so elaborated and attractive!
  • g-59652-3557219 February 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    The story is about a kid wanting to go to "toyland." The story happen during the Nazi's time. We see the boy missing in the morning. And his mom is very nervous and going everywhere to find her boy. Meanwhile, during her search, she remembers some memories for his kids. He is learning piano with his best friend. However, his friend is a Jewish. Their whole family is going to toyland and the little boy wants to go with them. We find out slowly that the the toyland is the concentration camp. We are so worried for the mother. In the end, the mother finds the police and stop the train in time before it goes away. However, she can't find her boy. Instead, she chooses to save a Jewish boy, a totally stranger in front of her. The ending is surprising and makes me feel sad about the sad history of the Nazi's. However, I like this short film very much. It's a very sad and heartbreaking topic. They manage to make a good, happy, at least an optimistic ending for it. Short film always have a mindset which is the makers expect people to remember characters or every details inside the whole film, so they tend to make it very essential. However, for a normal audience, I feel that it's very hard for me to understand the movie with so least clue inside when we see it for only one time.
  • The moment I heard melancholy piano instrumental played on the background, I felt to be pulled by a film. From a German language actress speaks and her serious reaction to the missing son, I soon noticed it is a story about The Holocaust. At first, it is slightly difficult to follow the story, because it is told from two perspectives of German mother and David, her son, in two timelines. The first scene starts with David's mother going to find David, who is seemingly captured by SS. In the next scene of David and Heinrich playing the piano together, we finally understand why David is missing. One of the most impressive moments is the interaction between the mother and David. The mother cannot honestly tell David the cruel truth about entrainment of Jewish, and instead lies that they will go to "Toyland." Watching unsatisfied David and the conversation between David and Heinrich, Jewish friend of David, we come to see why David vanishes from his bed. On the latter part, I was really thrilled by the struggle to reach David by his mother. In every sequence such as finding the teddy bear, being suspected as Jewish by the police, and final arrival to the train where David is, the contents are considerably concentrated, and I couldn't avert my eyes.
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