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The Last Stage - Ostatni Etap DVD

This product was added to our catalog on Monday 16 November, 2009.
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Price: $19.95
Item Description

A Jewish family from Poland, the Weisses, is sent to Auschwitz where the daughter, Martha, is selected to be an interpreter. The rest of her family are cruelly killed, and Martha and the other Poles must struggle under the tyranny of camp guards and capos. THE LAST STAGE is a powerful drama of the strength and endurance of ordinary women written by Gerda Schneider and directed by Poland s first female filmmaker, Wanda Jakubowska, who based the story on their own experiences at the notorious concentration camp.

Shot in a documentary-like style on location in Auschwitz just three years after the war ended, this recently rediscovered film is one of the earliest cinematic depictions of the Holocaust. It rings with truth and stings with authenticity.

In Polish with English Subtitles

Starring:Edward Dziewonski, Tatjana Grojecka, Antonina Gordon Gorecka, Barbara Drapinska, Aleksandra Slaska

Directed by: Wanda Jakubowska

Running time: 105 minutes



One of the best of all Holocaust films . . . . --Sunday Age




Product Reviews
Michael Barrett - 03/03/2010 5 of 5 Stars!
A movie I found out of the blue this week is SALTO, a 1965 film by Tadeusz Konwicki. It's being released on DVD by Facets Video. Konwicki is known as one of Poland's most important postwar novelists, but it turns out he directed six features and one episode of an anthology, and now I'd like to see all of them. This film stars Zbigniew Cybulski ("the Polish James Dean") as a crazy guy who drops into a kind of ghost town and tells various cockamamie stories, and the citizens aren't sure if they remember him or not. It's mostly a lot of curious confrontations, both intellectual and earthy, conveyed in a fluid camera style with disorienting transitions. Wojciech Kilar is the composer, and his music is just beautiful. Over the opening credits is a stately, delicate piano piece. There's no background music during the film, but the climax is a lengthy tour de force inside a local hall where the population has gathered to celebrate an annual festival, and there's a small band of piano, drums, double-bass, guitar, clarinet and trumpet. At one point they play a beautiful waltz as the camera turns around from the center of the dancers. It has some similarity, inevitably, to Shostakovich's Jazz Waltz #2 but it's hardly the same. The real setpiece, however, is the strange title dance, the salto. It's a driving rhythm that begins on the double-bass. Then the other instruments join in as Cybulski leads the town in the dance. This scene is very Polish, having precedents as far back as Wyspianski's classic play "The Wedding," which also ends with the whole town participating in a strange dance. The great pre-war avant-gardist Witkiewicz also employed similar dance devices in his groundbreaking plays, and although ignored in his lifetime, his work enjoyed a spectacular renaissance in 1950s Poland and influenced everybody, including Polanski.
Richard Brzostek - 12/09/2009 5 of 5 Stars!
The Last Stage (Ostatni Etap) is about the women who were interned at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. Although men were also imprisoned there, this story is mostly about the women. People from all over Europe (including France, Hungry, Poland and Russia) were caged and killed at this camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Some were imprisoned for political reasons and others for simply being a Pole or a Jew. The story is based on the actual experiences of the director (Wanda Jakubowska) and was shot on location just three years after the war, which gives it a feeling of practically being a recreation of the atrocity. Although we get to know a group of women, one that stands out is Martha Weiss. She is a young Jewish woman that is spared the same fate as her family because she ends up working for the Germans as an interpreter. Those who have a skill useful to the Nazis are spared leaving the camp though the smoke of the chimney. Martha and her friends make the best of their grim situation and are courageous in their acts of defiance. With their survival threatened, not all of the prisoners are quite so noble. Some of the prisoners work as assistants for the guards to help them do their dirty work. In return, they get a few extra comforts and their own deaths are delayed. The Last Stage captures the feeling of what it was like at Auschwitz, which is at times surreal with an orchestra of prisoners playing classical music out in the open air while the other prisoners are abused and degraded by their captors. Ostatni Etap is a classic Polish movie; in Poland, it is in the top 20 of all time box office hits of Polish cinema. The Last Stage depicts a disturbing part of history, but it is better to know what really happened during World War II than it is to pretend it never did, which is why I would recommend everyone to watch this movie.
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