Based on the popular novel by Jane Yolen, a typical American teenager gets transported back in time and experiences firsthand the horrors of the Holocaust and discovers the meaning of her family?s heritage.
Rammy M. (m5rammy) from LEBANON, OH Reviewed on 1/14/2008...
Amazing movie. KD blew me away.
No matter where you go, there you are
Kayla Rigney | USA | 04/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Originally made for Showtime, this excellent video is is based upon the children's book of the same title. Make no mistake, Devil's Arithmatic is brutal and honest -- and definitely not for younger viewers. However, it is an excellent introduction to the reality of the Holocaust for junior high or middle school students. Hannah is like most contemporary teenagers -- she'd really rather be with friends than participate in her family's Passover Seder.(The fact that it's Passover and she's hanging out watching her friend get a tattoo doesn't even strike her as ironic. Hannah is a child of the '90s.) She grudgingly does go to the Seder, because, well, she doesn't have a choice.Instead of actually participating, Hannah gets tipsy. Then, things start to get interesting. Devil's Arithmatic is a lesson distguised as a time-travel story. How Hannah ends up in Poland in 1942 isn't important. She's there. And she's rounded up along with everybody else. Suddenly, all those stories old people insist on telling over and over begin to make sense.The brutality of life in a concentration camp becomes a living breathing thing -- not just a number on her Aunt Eva's arm. Being a Jew begins to have meaning she never imagined. Hannah finds that what you believe can not only give you strength -- it can define you and your world. More importantly, it can give you the knowledge to choose. Choice is power. In the the world of the unnamed camp, one can either choose humanity or spiritual death. Hannah chooses humanity.I really don't want to reveal too much of the plot, because the twists make Devil's Arithmatic extremely affecting. Normally, I do not like fiction about the Holocaust. To me, fictionalising the Shoah is disrepectful; it is like lying. This movie, however, is respectful and in its own way very haunting. It has its own world and its own truths. I cannot reccommend this video highly enough."
"The Horror of the Holocaust ...for teenagers."
Jerry Parks | Lexington, KY USA | 01/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently showed this film to my 7th graders as a part of our study of the Jewish people. I wasn't sure what to expect. To be certain, Kirsten Dunst (Hannah) is popular with teens today, yet I could not guess how a film dealing with Passover Seders, Hebrew traditions, and a war so far away from the life of modern teens would go over in my classroom.
To my surprise, the film proved to be the most riveting and attention-holding movie I can ever recall showing. In it are contained superb acting, eerie (and effective) musical interludes, and a suspense of time-travel that will hold teenagers absolutely spellbound!
Dustin Hoffman's poignant introduction reveals his passion that young people today never forget the holocaust. As long as this film is available to be watched, they won't.
At times, the suffering of the Jews (made personal by Dunst's wonderful performance) pushes the emotional limit of what I felt my students could take. Yet, with craft and artistry, we are spared in "The Devils' Arithmetic" the emotional overload of "Schindler's List". This is as it should be. "The Devil's Arithmetic" is geared to teenagers.
If ever a theme of love, sacrifice, and the horror of hatred needed portrayal outside the realm of religion, one could not do much better than to show this film. What Hannah does for her best friend at the movie's conclusion is as gut-wrenching as it is predictable, and Nazi treatment of the Jews is brutally captured with appropriate reserve--no easy task! In the end, a young Jewish girl who began only with an interest in tattoos learns the lessons of history, tradition, and above all--life's priorities. In a nutshell, how lives and a culture can change in an instant is the strength of "The Devil's Arithmetic".
Be very sure--this film will make a powerful impact on young teens! The dropping of the gas pellets at the conclusion of the dream sequence is intense...very intense. Yet how can the Holocaust be portrayed without such reality? With younger teenagers, take care that background preparation, as well as a reflective time for discussion is provided. This movie packs an emotional punch, and will leave young minds impressed forever."
Horrid story, told incredibly well
Rebekah Sue Harris | West Haven, CT USA | 04/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Holocaust has to be one of the worst things to have happened in history. And, as those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, we continue to retell the story of the Holocaust from every different angle. This is an amazing telling of an incredibly sad tale. Those familiar with the Passover Seder knows that the story is explained to four "sons:" the Wise Son, the Bad Son, the Simple Son, and the Son Who Cannot Ask A Question. Kirsten Dunst plays a modern girl who epitomizes the Bad Som. She's not evil, but doesn't know what the heck it has to do with her. Nor does she care. Due to too much wine, or a miracle, Hannah is transported back in time to the Holocaust, where she spends time with family members before they go into a concentration camp, and is caught and sent to the camp with them. I cried hysterically throughout, and remain haunted by The Devil's Arithmetic. Because I hear that the book is even better, i'll be reading that as well. For a deeply moving story about the Holocaust, I do recommend this video."
A chilling, thought prevoking film...Impressive and stirring
historyone | Republic of Texas, USA | 07/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kirsten Dunst has made the transition from a child/teenage actress to a legitimate adult actress with this movie in my opinion. She portrays a Jewish teenage girl in the 1990's without a care or a concerned thought for her family and is "magically" transported back in time to the 1942 Nazi Occupation of Poland.In the beginning of the movie Dunst is an overprivledged teenage girl who is either ashamed to admit to being Jewish or has never really thought about it. She attends her Aunt Eva's Passover dinner, Aunt Eva is effectively portrayed by Louise Fletcher...then Dunst is asked to open the door for Elijah...the terror begins...Dunst who plays the teenage girl Hannah goes back to 1942 Poland, and in the most chilling way possible learns to value and appreciate her faith, heritage and belief of her religion. What a spiritual journey this is...This movie may have been made in mind for young adults, but it is a message for everyone, and the message is....Never Forget....Highly recommended"
Good, but not true to the book!!
camlyndc | Washington, DC | 01/14/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As this movie is based on one of my favorite children's books (the book is by Jane Yolen) I was very excited to find there was a movie version. It is very touching, yet frustrating if you've read the book. A great many characters are eliminated from the movie altogether, while some who are important are introduced at the beginning, then never heard from again (e.g., Esther & Shifre). This movie is perhaps a good precursor for children who might be overwhelmed by "Schindler's List".To me, the MOST annoying difference was that they completely removed the whole reason for calling it "The Devil's Arithmetic"! In the book, the girls are taught by a mentor in the concentration camp that they no longer have names and are just a number. To memorize their tattooed numbers, they each create a mnemonic device to remember their numbers easily. In the movie, this is replaced by the "adding and subtracting of Jews" statements made by the camp commandant throughout the film, which does not have the same effect as the device used in the book.While the choice of Dunst for the part of Hannah is questionable, I was completely bowled over by Brittany Murphy in the role of Rivka...and seeing Louise Fletcher in a kind, caring role for once was a nice touch! All in all, a potentially educational movie, but not half as good as the book!"