Heartbreaking and Beautiful!!!!
Yahaira | Dallas, TX USA | 09/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Having always been attracted to the concept of forbidden love, the idea of a German soldier falling in love with a Jewish girl during the WWII era was too good to pass up when I saw it at the video store.
The story was passionate and entrathalling... I could not turn away despite the numerous pitfalls that occur to the lead actors. Both Oskar and Rachel start off in the story as naive and romantic people, whose love is disrupted by the cruelties of the war and the expectations of Oskar by his general father. As the story progresses, the harsh realities of war force these two to grow up and do unthinkable things. Oskar becomes his father's son and furthers the German cause, learning to kill in the blink of an eye. Rachel, on the other hand, is forced to become a prostitute for German soldiers in order to feed and clothe her baby. Bernard, her husband, has to accept it all because he loves Rachel and the baby she had with Oskar.
Survival becomes the key element of this story, even more than the love between Oskar and Rachel. Some reviewers were upset by the lack of realism in the story, but this is what war is all about. People suffering and doing things they never would have though themselves capable of doing. The story serves to illustrate the inhumanity of wars, how destructive and evil they are.
In the end, Oskar and Rachel find each other again, never having lost they felt for one another. The fact that they still had the capacity to love after all they had been through was pretty miraculous. A heartwrenching story with a happy ending, a truly wonderful movie!"
z hayes | TX | 06/30/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
""Hearts of War" was originally titled "The Poet" [the European release], and is a Holocaust/WW II drama. The movie begins in 1939 as the Germans invade and occupy Poland. Rachel [Nina Dobrev] is a rabbi's daughter who gets lost in a snowstorm and is rescued by an undercover German officer, Oscar Koenig [Jonathan Scarfe]. The next morning, Rachel awakes to see the smitten Oscar and they both make love. This is the beginning of a series of plot implausibilities. Even if one were to take into account that both Rachel and Oscar genuinely fell in love, I think the story would have had more credibility if they had at least spent a bit more time getting to know each other. I mean, Rachel is an orthodox rabbi's daughter and betrothed to someone else! I do not think it was common for a girl of such upbringing to fling convention to the winds and have sex with a virtual, albeit handsome stranger.
That aside, the movie just does not flow well - there are a few different story arcs that run through the movie, but are not fused seamlessly. Rachel ends up getting separated from Oscar, finds herself pregnant, and later agrees to marry selfless Bernard, a Jewish young man who is hopelessly in love with Rachel. The pair have to navigate a treacherous and uncertain path and fight against the odds to stay alive. Oscar meanwhile, pines away for his love whilst under pressure from his peers and his domineering father to act like a 'good German soldier'. His heart just isn't in fighting, preferring to write 'deep' poems instead. There are some notable names in this movie that are totally wasted - Daryl Hannah plays Oscar's sympathetic mother, who hardly bats an eyelid when Oscar proclaims he loves a Jewish girl. Roy Scheider appears briefly as a rabbi who marries Rachel and Bernard.
The movie ultimately suffers from a lack of credibility - not just in the storyline such as the unconvincing romance but also in the action sequences which come off as lame and poorly executed. There's also a story arc later on in the movie where Rachel masquerades as Christina, a singer who sleeps with German officers to survive. I'm sorry, perhaps such stories did occur during the war, but at this point, I was beyond caring what happened to anyone in the movie.
I've watched many Holocaust dramas and there are some really stellar productions out there. "Hearts of War" isn't one of them."
1939 Poland: Caught Between Germans & Russians
Noirman | 11/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
At the explosive dawning of World War II, an Orthodox Rabbi's beautiful daughter (Rachel) and a deeply disenchanted young German soldier (Oscar), who is undercover posing as a Polish partisan, fall in love, and are quickly separated by the ongoing horrors of the war.
They struggle on a perilous journey to find one another in the midst of the Shoah. The situation is made more complicated due to Rachel's upcoming, pre-arranged marriage to a humble, observant Orthodox young man (Bernard).
Oscar's father is a German General, also stationed in Poland, but clearly sold out 100% to the 3rd Reich cause of forced Lebensraum ("living space") via displacement, dispossession & extermination) complicating this drama even more between father & son, while Oscar's mother understands his mounting apprehensions.
The film also has plenty of action dealing with on-the-run Jewish refugees including Bernard and Rachel, attempting to combat tormenting regular German Wehrmacht troops, plus SS butchers hunting them deep in the dense forests, coupled with systematic German instigated genocide of other impoverished, displaced Jewish rural populations throughout German subjugated Poland.
Sections of this tense, at times romantic, action packed war picture show a ruthless, robotic, female Russian NKVD intelligence officer & her fellow undercover Russian clandestine operatives who she commands. Their duty is to gather detailed information on current & future German troop movements near the Russian border, by capturing German troops, as well as the ongoing liquidation of anti-Bolshevik Poles & Jews in the Russian occupied zones of eastern Poland, bordering the expanding repressive Stalinist empire of 1939.
I found some confusion concerning various time frames throughout this movie, but those can be overlooked thanks to fine outdoor cinematography, along with the very capable actors & actresses, making this Holocaust era film well worth viewing."