Quick recap: A Jewish teen, Solomon, escapes Nazi rule by hiding out in a Communist orphanage. After being ordered to close, Solomon’s only chance of survival is to join the Hitler Youth.
Fun(?) fact: The movie is based on a true story. The real Solomon Perel can be seen singing at the end of the film.
Thoughts and Observations:
- So much of this film reminds me of Jojo Rabbit but I don’t think Europa Europa was a source of inspiration for Taika Waititi or anything, more so that both movies revolve around the Hitler Youth. The woman who Sally loses his virginity to because she thinks he looks like Hitler is very reminiscent of Rebel Wilson’s character Fraulein Rahm, though.
- I’m amazed by how specific this movie is yet the theme is so universal. Every teen goes through a period of fitting in and questioning beliefs, except in this case the stakes are so much higher. Perel brings up his circumcision a lot when narrating the movie. There is even a scene at the Nazi school where he tries to stretch his foreskin out so that when he gets his physical, no one will be able to tell that he is actually Jewish. It made me think of all the ways I tried to hide myself as a teen, in a desperate hope that I could just fit in and go unnoticed.
- Europa Europa has some suspenseful scenes but I wouldn’t call the whole movie a nail biter. It was also less graphic than I imagined it to be, although the few scenes involving death, like when Perel visits the ghetto are images that will be hard to leave my brain any time soon. I think what got me is this movie didn’t make the Nazis out to look pure evil, but instead people who had a job to do. Some gleefully enjoyed the work and some just merely tried to stay alive, like Perel. There were a couple of people who found out his secret and didn’t rat him out but for the most part citizens just tried to ignore what was going on.
- The ending completely surprised me *SPOILERS* as Perel escaped the Nazis only to wind up captured because of his alleged atrocities against the Jewish people by the Americans. It’s only after Perel sees his brother alive at a concentration camp that everything is sorted out and he can finally just be himself. Hiding his heritage became more of a burden than if he had just been captured along with his family in the beginning.
Watchability score: 4/5
Up next: Guys and Dolls