OscarĀ(r) nominees* Willem Dafoe (Shadow of the Vampire, Platoon), Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver) and Robert Loggia (Jagged Edge) deliver "performances [that] will astonish you" (Jeffrey Lyons) in this "extraordina... more »ry" (The Wall Street Journal) story of life, death and conscience. It "may be one of the most powerful films you will see in a lifetime" (KABC-TV). And most incredible of all, it's true! World War II was the time. Auschwitz was the place. Survival was the prize. Boxer Salamo Arouch (Dafoe) is interned in the Nazi death campwith his family and friends. For the amusement of his captors, Salamo is forced to fight his fellowinmates brutal contests that send the loser to the gas showers. Salamo's prowess in the ring is both his salvation and his nightmare, as his "victories" condemn others to death. Still he fights on, hoping he might somehow save his father his friends perhaps even his soul. *Dafoe: Supporting Actor, Shadow of the Vampire (2000); Supporting Actor, Platoon (1986); Olmos: Actor, Stand and Deliver (1988); Loggia: Supporting Actor, Jagged Edge (1985)« less
What a great movie with lots of great actors but lots of sadness for good reason. I think you will like the ending though.
TO LIVE OR TO DIE?
Boris Zubry | Princeton, NJ United States | 04/19/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What does it take to live when your chances are equal to a zero? What does it mean to survive at the expense of the others? WWII, Greece, Germans, Jews, camps, death... A young, strong boxer has a chance to fight. The SS would have fun betting on it. If he wins, he gets to live a little longer and a loaf of bread. Many people get a piece of this bread but most of all is his father and a brother. They are all he still have. He wins and lives. The looser dies. Every time he wins, he saves whatever left of the family. Every time he wins, he kills the looser. At the end, only he survives. The whole family is dead. All friends are dead. Was he right? Was not it easier to die? Yes, it was easier to die but he selects the difficult way of living being responsible for deaths of other fighters. He was able to prolong lives of the loved ones. He lived to tell the story and to fight another day. His spirit was not broken but triumphed.This is an outstanding film with an excellent cast and the deepest power I have seen for a while. All I can say is see it for yourself and enjoy the best."
Better, more realistic than Schindler's List/Dafoe is Great
Adam Bernstein | Northwest, USA | 01/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Triumph of the Spirit is probably the most realistic dramatic recreation of the horrors of Auschwitz I've seen. Director Robert Young is a pro at bringing controversial independent films to fruition, and Dafoe gives one of his best performances here. He portrays Salamo Arouch, a Greek Jewish Olympic boxer deported to Auschwitz. This true story was filmed on location at Auschwitz and Birkenau (Auschwitz II) and we are shown the death machine in full operation. Again there is an intensity and realism to this film that makes Schindler's List pale in comparison. Edward James Olmos portrays a gypsy singer who becomes a key ally of Salamo; Gypsy entertains the SS and Salamo boxes for them while they hope for the Russians to come. One relatively minor flaw of the film is that the actors who portray SS and camp guards seem benign, almost nice at times, and I really doubt the actual female guards were as good looking as a few of the Frauleins here. But a good touch of realism is the languages. The Germans speak German, the Poles speak Polish, and the Russians speak Russian all without subtitles (compare this to Schindler's List). And the make up job was great; the victims really looked like they were on death's door. If you want to know about the Holocaust this drama is near the top of the list with the best documentaries. And Polanski's "The Piano" should be good too."
The best Holocaust Movie
jlsdunton | Otisville, Mi United States | 01/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with Leonard Ross, this movie is much better than Schindler's List. It is much more accurate and gritty and realistic in its portrayal of life in the camps. It is also a movie about family bonds, love and relationships and shows how these bonds were ravaged by what took place during WW II. Short of showing actual film footage in my classroom, this movie speaks volumes about the plight of the Jewish people during the Holocaust."
A deeply moving, excellent film... and a true story!
FTATA23@aol.com | Massachusetts | 12/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This amazing story is beautifully acted by Dafoe and Loggia, as well as the other cast. It is my very favorite of the films I've seen portraying the tragedy of the death camps. I recommend it to anyone as a film not just of the triumph of the spirit, but as a triumph of love over suffering and loss. It may not be easy to watch such a film as this, but it is important for us to watch it and to learn from it."