Movie still from "In Darkness," courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

After the success of her 1990 film Europa, Europa, director Agnieszka Holland swore she’d never do another  Holocaust movie. 

“I feel like I said all I wanted to say,” she tells SFGate.com. She even lists the potential dangers of fictionalizing the Holocaust in an interview with the Washington Post:

Being moralistic, being sentimental, looking for some good-feeling lesson coming from this experience, because I think it’s impossible to have one. Making all the Jewish characters some kind of faceless angels. To make it black and white. To make it accusatory. To re-create clichés that have already been told many times.”

Oh, and then there are these beauties, in reference to being pursued by a screenwriter and producer team:

They wanted to make it as an English film with some American star playing the lead. I have seen these English-speaking Holocaust films, and I think they are bad.

I didn’t want to make another Holocaust story in English. I just felt that it would be fake.”

And yet, In Darkness, her new Holocaust film about a Polish petty thief who helped save Jews by helping them navigate the sewer system, is up for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. What made this one different?

The screenwriter kept coming back to me, and at some point I started having dreams about it, so I thought maybe I better do it. And they agreed to shoot it in the original languages (Polish, German, Yiddish and Ukrainian). I wanted the audience to experience the movie, to really have the feeling that they made the journey and I think language is important to that.”

I haven’t seen the film yet, but it’s on my list. If you’ve seen it, please share your thoughts (without disclosing any spoilers, of course) in the space below.

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