September 21, 2021


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‘The Survivor’: Barry Levinson’s Searching Holocaust Boxing Drama

4 min read

Barry Levinson’s age, so to speak, made “The Survivor” a true story of the Holocaust, as an account of the end of his career. The central character, Harry Huft, played the extraordinary Ben Foster, a Polish Jew who was sent to Auschwitz in 1943, where he saw the lowest circle of the death camp. But he also became a boxer, fighting with other prisoners for Nazi entertainment and not letting him perish. What Harry does makes him a real cousin Sonderkommandos, A unit working with death-camp detainees whose lives were extended because they did a horrible job of disposing of gas-chamber victims. “The Survivor” faces the question of whether Harry is dealing with the devil. (Actually, there is no doubt that he was. The real question is: was it a pact that God could forgive?) Like a strong man who fought against the Nazis and fought against fate.

“The Survivor” is a holocaust drama, a boxing movie, a character study and guilt meditation. The pieces aren’t always fake, and there are moments of patch and prosciutto, but it’s still Levinson’s most powerful work of the year. You feel the surge of his promise. It’s a tougher movie than you expected – it maintains the integrity of his journey – and Foster’s exciting performance, as well as being athletic and distressed, turns Harry into something more obscure than a plaster Jewish saint who knows how to use his fist. He is a thoughtful browser that is trying to fight on the way out of purity.

Half of the film is set in Auschwitz (shot in black and white), and although Levinson did not stop to frighten us, as Spielberg did in “Schindler’s List” or Tim Blake Nelson’s “The Gray Zone”, he sees the death camp as a real narcissist. , Eroded corpses, the whole horror of destruction.

When Harry, trying to save a fellow prisoner, attacks the Nazi guard and reveals his prowess to Phytophys, he is noticed by Snyder, a young Nazi officer (played by Billy Magnusen’s extraordinary cunning) who had “intellectual curiosity” about the Jews. Makes him a genocidal bully with a continuum of complexity. Harry is his warrior, his partner on some level, and his servant / pet. The scenes on the bare body have a splash of blood on them which fascinates the viewer. Foster, bald and weak but all stupid, shows you that this fight is a kind of insanity for Harry. But it’s the lifeline given to him, and he’s forced to embrace it.

After landing at Brighton Beach in New York, Auschwitz began in 1949, cutting local experience behind Harry’s time and his experience (The Survivor) after the war. Foster, full of this scene, has a fleshy face (he looks a lot like De Niro in the “Ragging Bull” scene of the 1980s), thick avy-eyed hair, and Yiddish accents, something that makes him a self-contained Holocaust survivor. The ambiguity of the people, but Foster is a very good actor that can trap Harry in making so many buttons that he doesn’t become interested. Harry says, right in front, who he is; There is a way to penetrate his feelings. In the boxing ring, he is introduced “Poland’s pride, Auschwitz’s survival,” Which works for him until a reporter (Peter Sarsgaard) tells a story about him, revealing that he survived a war by breaking a deal with the Nazis. For a while he turned into a neighborhood disaster.

The state of mind of a Holocaust survivor is a difficult matter to ask an audience to enter; I can’t think of many movies that have judged it. “The Survivor” has a somewhat unstable structure, but it continues to add levels according to Justin Jewel Gilmirit’s script, trying to intensify and solve Harry’s mystery. The movie is less interested in a simple moral judgment of what people have done to survive than to understand what these choices do for their minds and souls. Foster has a great war where Harry Auschwitz tells the story of a man who took another person’s hat to pass an inspection. It became a twisted analogy to the ambiguity of survival.

Just when we think we’ve nailed Harry, something else will eat him up. As Foster plays Harry, his guilt and anger and loss are there, but so is his hope, his courage, his fiery love for life – and, above all, his instinct to keep it a secret. As World War II was heating up, Harry lost the love of his life, a young woman named Leah (we see them in the flashback, and we see her being taken to camp), and she suffers from the idea that she is still alive. When he announces that he wants to fight Rocky Marciano, who is heading for the world heavyweight title, the motivation behind this visionary dream is to get his name in the Harry title. That’s how Leah, no matter where she is, will know she’s alive.

Harry Huff really fought Rocky Marciano (he lasted three rounds) and a lesser movie could turn Marciano into his climax. When Levinson takes the stage, Danny Davito as Marciano’s Jewish manager, who is out of tribal allegiance (“It’s a sad history of our people. We’re always punching bags” makes for a violent dramatic scene, but for Harry it’s just a way station. Vicky Cripps , As Mary, the woman marries Harry, she has a gossip surface and something hard underneath: Harry’s compulsion to worry about his own pain.In his way, he’s just like a bull; that’s why he clings to her.Finally, sitting on the beach, Harry calls it a joke – a Jewish joke – it’s actually funny. Not only do the two of them catch on, but so do the viewers.

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