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 survive 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.

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