I found this film highly engaging throughout and would certainly recommend that everyone afford it the same chance that they would if it were a mainline title. I left the film somewhat conflicted, however, about the ways that certain films use Great Actual Tragedies as backdrops to intimate but fictional stories of a few individuals caught up in the storm. Something like Titanic
would seem to be one of the worst such offenders (though imagine how much worse that film would have been if it had been set in a concentration camp!) And while I wouldn't place Kapò
anywhere near that level, there are some scenes that perhaps rely too heavily on our preconceived notions of Nazis as Pure Evil, or that attempt to make us sympathize with a love story when there are much graver things going on.
For example, consider the scene in which Nicole agrees to let some of the officers have their way with her in exchange for food, and then in the end, they can't even complete their side of the bargain.
Now, the Nazis may or may not have actually done this sort of thing in real life, but to me, this sticks out as a device meant to make the audience loathe the story's villains as much as possible (as if exterminating Jews wasn't horrible enough). This sort of thing has the opposite of its intended effect on me, as I recognize that something is trying to manipulate me, and it takes me out of the story a little, though I'll admit there wasn't necessarily a whole lot of this in Kapò
. Still, it doesn't earn as many points on this front as, say, Diamonds of the Night
, which pole vaults over all your preconceived notions of how a Holocaust film should be, finding poetry in the suffering of its victims.
The love story is another matter,
especially as it incites a turnaround in Nicole's character that is crucial to the film's plot.
Again, we're nowhere near Titanic
territory here, though I'm not as satisified with it as I am with, say, the love story in Hiroshima mon amour
, where the tragedy (even many years removed) casts a grey pallor over the lovers' entire relationship. Perhaps that comparison is a bit unfair though, as Hiroshima
was really all about the love story,
whereas here, it's merely a driving force in the film's final act. Though I suppose it does also serve to symbolize the one thing Nicole has left to hope for, and the film's bleak resolution prevents it from falling into a "love conquers all...even the Holocaust!" trap.
I hope I don't sound as though I'm being too harsh on the film though. These are just some thoughts I had during and after watching it, and are for the most part criticisms I have of Holocaust films in general, not so much this one in particular.
As for the transfer, it was certainly watchable, though there were several instances of noise throughout that looked kind of like someone jogging a mouse across a computer screen. I wonder if this had anything to do with the film being relegated to EAH.