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

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The Island on Bird Street

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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.

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