The Island on Bird Street | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

The Island on Bird Street


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


The Island on Bird Street

Based on the autobiography of a Polish Holocaust survivor, this 1997 coproduction from Denmark and the UK chronicles an 11-year-old boy's struggle to endure as the lone inhabitant of a walled Jewish ghetto in Warsaw that's been evacuated and devastated by the Nazis. Jordan Kiziuk gives a moving performance as the naive and lonely boy, an avid reader of Robinson Crusoe who uses tactics from the book to combat a barrage of physical hazards and elude a diligent gestapo officer. Director Soren Kragh-Jacobsen (The Boys From St. Petri) presents the cold, dilapidated ghetto with astonishing realism, creating a stark contrast with the quiet streets and comforting homes just outside the wall. Like Schindler's List, the film is fraught with tension and moral ambiguity, yet Kragh-Jacobsen avoids the other film's violence, pathos, and monumental self-importance. And its production values are just as polished, with fluid chiaroscuro photography by Ian Wilson (The Crying Game) and a klezmer-imbued score by Zbigniew Preisner (Krzysztof Kieslowski's composer). With Patrick Bergin and Jack Warden. Pipers Alley, 210 W. North, Friday, October 23, 9:45 AM, and Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton, Sunday, October 25, noon; 773-281-9075.

--Ted Shen

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment