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In Tranzit
In Tranzit
Actors: John Malkovich, Thomas Kretschmann, Vera Farmiga
Director: Tom Roberts
Genres: Drama
UR     2009     1hr 30min

In the chaotic aftermath of WWII, a group of German POWs are accidentally sent to a female-run Soviet prison camp. When the guards are given the task of weeding out the SS officers, they play a bitter game of cat and mouse...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John Malkovich, Thomas Kretschmann, Vera Farmiga
Director: Tom Roberts
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/12/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Compelling drama about German POWs in a Russian prison camp
z hayes | TX | 05/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In Tranzit" is a unique post WW II drama set in Leningrad, Russia and is based on true events. The year is 1946, and a group of German POWs are sent to a prison camp run by female guards [the camp was formerly for women]. Vera Farmiga plays Natalia, the compassionate doctor who treats the prisoners as human beings, whereas the majority of the guards treat the prisoners with disdain. One guard is particularly sadistic, though her treatment of the prisoners needs to be framed within the context of her past, as her family was murdered by German soldiers.

With limitations of food and other rations, everyone tries to make do and function the best they can, but things get complicated with the demands of John Malkovich, who plays Pavlov, a high-ranking Russian officer who commands Natalia to get information for him. The information requested is about Nazi SS officers who are hiding amongst the prisoners, and Natalia's job is to weed them out. She is reluctant mainly because she doesn't think it's part of her job, but Pavlov holds a threat over her that has to do with Andrei[Yevgeni Mironov], the mentally unbalanced gatekeeper of the camp.

As the period of incarceration progresses, boundaries are crossed - Natalia finds herself drawn to Max, one of the POWs [credibly portrayed by Thomas Kretschmann], others discover intimacy and even love even though it is forbidden, and a musical band is also formed amongst the inmates.

This is supposed to be a true story, and I for one thought this was an interesting drama as it dramatizes a relatively unfamiliar series of events, having to do with German POWs incarcerated in a Russian prison camp [especially the part where some of the inmates are allowed to live with women off the camp]. Though I'm very familiar with the events of the Holocaust, this part of history was a revelation to me.

The acting, especially by Vera Farmiga as the kind and strong-willed Natalia was amazing, and this is definitely one of her best roles to date [she recently portrayed the CIA operative outed in the movie "Nothing But the Truth"]. John Malkovich somehow seems wasted in this role and his performance was not particularly compelling. The other performance which deserves mention is Yevgeni Mironov's Andrei, who gives a compelling dialogue-free performance, portraying a mentally unstable person.
The DVD extra consists of a "Making of Tranzit" feature with director Tom Roberts.

Highly recommended for those interested in history and dramas of substance.

An Excellent Idea for a Film, A Very Weak Script
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 05/17/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"IN TRANZIT is one of those forgotten films the viewer wants to love: an all but unknown bit of history based on a true story that offers a different insight into the universal damage inflicted upon all peoples by WW II. The problem with this production is the embarrassingly weak script by Natalia Portonova and Simon van der Borgh, the unfocused direction by Tom Roberts and the bumpy editing by Paul Carlin. Beautifully photographed by Sergei Astakhov in a manner that emphasizes the brutality of Russian winters, setting a perfect matrix for the drama, this film had potential, but even the isolated acting contributions of a few seasoned actors cannot hide the weak script and the annoying pacing.

1946 and a Russian Women's prisoner of war camp lays unused until it is determined by one evil Russian officer Pavlov (John Malkovich) that it will become a camp for German prisoners of war to ferret out occult members of the Nazi SS group that inflicted such agony on the Russians. The camp is run by a group of angry Russian women soldiers and one Russian physician Natalia (Vera Farmiga) who together with Citizen Zina (Natalie Press) represent the humanistic side of the suffering Russian victims of the German brutality. And so it is German men, including the handsome Max (Thomas Kretschmann) who shares a mutual attraction with Natalia and the enigmatic Klaus (Daniel Brühl) among others, versus the Russian women: role reversal and gender dominance changes create the drama. One key mute figure is Andrei (the brilliant Russian actor Yevgeni Mironov), the psychologically damaged husband of Natalia, who in many ways represents the tragedy of the entire WW II on mankind. How these two groups of people interact and survive the conditions imposed on them forms the story.

Though Farmiga and Kretschmann, Press and Mironov overcome the awkward script in an attempt to suffuse this film with palpable tragedy, the result is a bumpy ride through the obvious pitfalls of amateur filmmaking. It could have been an important film, but is remains a minor though interesting insight as to the extended effects of war on people's psyches. Grady Harp, May 09"
David R. Eastwood | Long Island, NY | 09/27/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"There is an interesting story to be told about German POWs and their female Russian guards following the defeat of Germany in World War II. Because of its weak script, this film does not succeed in doing so.

According to the marketing statement on this DVD's hardcase, this is the story: "In the chaotic aftermath of WWII, a group of German POWs are accidentally sent to a female-run Soviet prison camp. When the guards are given the task of weeding out the SS officers, they play a bitter game of cat and mouse with the prisoners. Each group slowly learns that situations are not what they seem; prejudices are sometimes unjustly held; and love can be found in even the harshest places." This muddled and unfocused blurb is less than half accurate. E.g., only one woman (the camp's doctor, played by Vera Farmiga) is given the mission of identifying the SS officers, and she uses no cat-and-mouse game to do so. On the other hand, according to the discussion in the bonus features, the story was supposed to be about how the Russians and their German enemies learned to forgive each other. This is not accurate either.

What we are shown is a kaleidoscopic array of often unconnected elements that do not provide us with a story arc or combinations of two or three or four story arcs that make any unified sense. Some guards act with nobility and dignity, some steal food, some seek to gratify their sexual desires, some enjoy inflicting pain, and so on--which merely gives us a cross-section of humanity that might exist almost anywhere on earth. At intervals, SS officers are mysteriously plucked out of the prison population by a male Soviet officer (John Malkovich). At intervals, policies are mysteriously changed by the Soviet government--or by Malkovich's character. E.g., near the end of the film, the prisoners are given musical instruments, a dance is arranged with them and several dozen local Russian women, some of the prisoners begin living with Russian women outside the POW camp, and the gatekeeper of the camp (the mentally disabled husband of the camp's doctor) is taken away. What do these events all add up to?

They seem to be scraps of drafts of four or five scripts that were never quite completed. Perhaps they are."