in darkness

In Darkness (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

In Darkness (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Agnieszka Holland).
Watched October 23, 2013.

In Darkness is a film about the Holocaust, but more specifically about humanity in the face of adversity.  Based on true events, it causes us to relive a nasty part of history that should never stop being retold.


Nazi Germany had reached its way into Poland.  A sewer worker, Mr. Socha (Robert Wiechiewicz) stumbles across a group of Jews from the ghetto preparing for the inevitable and makes a deal with them for when the time comes.  He is driven by greed and promises his partner that if it gets too hairy they will just hand the Jews in and walk away with the money.


Socha helps smuggle the Jews into the sewer and finds a suitable hiding place for them, where they hide for over a year.  Socha finds himself immediately under scrutiny by wife, shop owners, and suspicious Nazis.  Instead of running, however, he realizes that the eleven people in the sewer are human beings with families who deserve to breathe fresh air just as much as the next man.


The film is dark and slow moving.  Everyone is always tense and fearful.  There are storms and flooding, Nazi sewer searches, babies, and murder.  As much as the Jews want to trust Socha, they keep him at arms length and jump to conclusions.  He is only there for the money, after all.


I loved the character arch of Socha.  He is certainly the standout actor who holds most of the screen time.  We see his home life, his work life, and his night life.  We see the fear in his eyes when he must help the Nazis search the sewers and we watch as his cares become less about money and more about life.  He is willing to lose everything, and in doing so teaches those around him an important lesson.


As far as holocaust films go, In Darkness is less about the war camps and more about the struggle these particular families went through.  It shows quite clearly that although the Jews received the worst of it, everyone was affected by Hitler and Nazi Germany.  Although the film moves slowly, it keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Every second I was sure that their hiding place would be found or that Mr. Socha would fail them.


I would definitely recommend In Darkness.  I thought it was a particularly well made and understandable foreign film.  The characters grab at your heart and the story keeps your attention.  I may never view it again, but it is exquisite enough to make a lasting memory.