MONA D. JEWELL | NASHUA, NH United States | 12/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Superbly acted, this is a neo-classical tragedy which transcends the parameters of its historical setting. Don't mistake this for another run-of-the mill yarn on Nazism or the Holocaust. It brings to the fore the basic struggles of power,righteous revenge, choices, and the timeless question of why does God permit evil and suffering in the world."
A Holocaust movie that depicts the struggles of faith & hope
z hayes | TX | 02/19/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In The Presence of Mine Enemies centers around a Jewish family in the last days of the Warsaw Ghetto. It is November 1942, and most of the Jews in the ghetto have been deported. We are introduced to Rabbi Adam Heller [Armin Mueller Stahl] and his daughter Rachel[Elina Lowensohn] who try to live as quietly as they can, evading the dreaded transports for as long as possible. The Kommandant is portrayed as an evil, merciless character who has no qualms sending children to their deaths and has his eye set on Rachel. Chad Lowe portrays a young Nazi officer who proclaims that Jews are 'subhumans' yet acts contrary to his beliefs. He refuses to hit the Rabbi, and though is forced to obey the cruel whims of his superior, the Kommandant, does so against his conscience.
The story centers mainly on the struggles of Rabbi Heller who tries to remain passive and accepting of the dire circumstances of his people in the ghetto, yet a chain of incidents challenge not only his passivity but also his very faith. When his own daughter falls prey to an evil nazi, his son Paul [already imbued with vitriolic hatred towards the Germans "We need to kill ten German babies for each one of ours"] challenges his father's deep faith and mocks his father's belief in God.
Though this movie is based on a work of fiction, it definitely resonates with one's emotions, and the credible cast of characters [except perhaps the besotted young Nazi played by Lowe] make this a worthy addition to movies dealing with the Holocaust theme."
More like a play than a movie
Ardeal | Atlanta, GA United States | 05/26/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First , I really wanted to like this movie even though I did not expect another Schindler's List type feature. The producers must have saved a lot on the very restrictive set. Let's not forget that this is the Warsaw ghetto but there are plenty of other movies which are not so claustrophobic. I'm sure this claustrophobia is more related to a limited budget than to the artistic message they want to send. 2 other things which in my opinion did not go well: The main character may be a good actor but he does not fit the physical description of a rabbi very well - especially his facial features. Without giving out the ending, I do not believe a father and especially a rabbi would have acted in the manner portrayed, but would rather have used his body as a shield for the endangered party in question.
I realize I was somehow negative in this review - there's plenty of positives and I don't feel repeating the other reviewers.
Grim flowers of despair
Michael N. Ryan | Bel AIr, Maryland USA | 05/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Lord send me tears", the Rabbi cries in despair in one scene.
And he has many reasons. Trying to be a bastion of hope to his doomed flock. People dying around him. Others diseaparing onto trains to the camps never to be heard from again. His daughter is raped by an SS officer. His son returns from the dead a demon
Oddly enough, he gets his tears and from a most unlikely source
Holocaust films are by nature not happy since the genre is that of death and despair. Yet this film does give us hope in the end."