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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Escape from Sobibor (MRA) (1987)

Escape from Sobibor (MRA) (1987) (NTSC)

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Released 1-Dec-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 119:02
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jack Gold

MRA Entertainment
Starring Rutger Hauer
Alan Arkin
Joanna Pacula
Case Jewel
RPI ? Music Georges Delerue

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Heavily based on the novel by Richard Rashke (misspelt "Raske" on the DVD packaging), Escape From Sobibor tells the inspirational true story of the only successful mass-escape from a Nazi concentration camp.

    In 1942 Operation Reinhard, the final solution to the Jewish question was put into operation. Three death camps were built in Eastern Poland, near the Russian border, at Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor. Sobibor opened in March 1942. Initially, three gas chambers housed in a brick building used carbon monoxide to kill Jewish prisoners, with three more gas chambers added later.

    At the height of its operation, Sobibor had trains overcrowded with prisoners arriving daily. During its operation, it's estimated that over a quarter of a million people were exterminated in this camp, the vast majority being Jewish.

    "We heard word for word how SS-Oberscharführer Michel, standing on a small table, convincingly calmed the people; he promised them that after the bath they would get back all their possessions, and said that the time had come for Jews to become productive members of society. They would presently all be sent to the Ukraine where they would be able to live and work. The speech inspired confidence and enthusiasm among the people. They applauded spontaneously and occasionally they even danced and sang." (Ada Lichtmann, a survivor from Sobibor, reported how the arrivals were greeted)

    "I installed shower nozzles in the gas chambers. The nozzles were not connected to a water pipe because they were only meant to serve as camouflage for the gas chambers. The Jews who were to be gassed were untruthfully informed that they were to be bathed and disinfected . . . everything was to proceed at top speed so that the victims would have no chance to grasp what was going on. Their reactions were to be paralysed to prevent escape attempts or acts of resistance." (SS Officer Erich Fuchs at a Nuremberg trial)

    "On the way to the gas chambers Germans with dogs stood along the fence on both sides. The dogs had been trained to attack people; they bit the men's genitals and the women's breasts, ripping off pieces of flesh. The Germans hit the people with whips and iron bars to spur them on so that they pressed forward into the "showers" as quickly as possible. The screams of the women could be heard far away, even in the other parts of the camp. The Germans drove the running victims on with shouts of: "Faster, faster, the water will get cold, others still have to go under the showers!" To escape from the blows, the victims ran to the gas chambers as quickly as they could, the stronger ones pushing the weaker aside. At the entrance to the gas chambers stood the two Ukrainians, Ivan Demaniuk and Nikolai, one of them armed with an iron bar, the other with a sword. They drove the people inside with blows... As soon as the gas chambers were full, the Ukrainians closed the doors and started the engine. Some 20-25 minutes later an SS-man or a Ukrainian looked through a window in the door. When they had ascertained that everyone had been asphyxiated, the Jewish prisoners had to open the doors and remove the corpses. Since the chambers were overcrowded and the victims held on to one another, they all stood upright and were like one single block of flesh" (Abraham Goldfarb, Holocaust survivor)

    The evil and ghastly operation at Sobibor came to a grinding halt, when on October 14, 1943, the prisoners revolted and the Germans lost control of the camp.

    This made-for-television production tells this extraordinary story. Leon Feldhendler (Alan Arkin), watches the smoke rise over the camp daily. Despite every escape attempt failing, and all escapees being killed, he has not lost hope. He is planning a break-out of ten to twenty prisoners. When another group of prisoners are caught trying to escape, they are each forced to select another prisoner from the camp to die with them. Leon and his escape council agree that everyone must be given a chance to escape. This means all 600 prisoners. The plan's chances of success are boosted when a small group of Russian (Jewish) soldiers arrive, led by Alexander 'Sasha' Pechersky (Rutger Hauer). Sasha helps Leon devise a plan that will give as many people as possible a chance to escape, and to live.

    Of the 600 prisoners held in Sobibor, over 300 escaped that day. In the fighting, 11 SS men and a number of Ukrainian guards were killed. Many of the escapees managed to survive, and start new lives. Importantly, many of them also got to tell their story, and appear as witnesses in later trials.

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Transfer Quality


    The NTSC transfer suffers from the appearance of being overly (or badly) compressed onto the disc.

    Originally made for television in the 1980s, the transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    The sharpness ranges from okay to poor. The shadow detail is very poor, especially in the darker scenes, such as at 25:33.

    The colour seems washed out, but this does reflect the bleakness and drudgery of the environment. The skin tones have an orange hue.

    MPEG artefacts appear throughout, and an example of severe macro-blocking can be seen during the forest scene at 114:14.

    Film-to-video artefacts are present in the form of mild aliasing, such as the shimmer on the windows at 38:37.

    Small film artefacts appear throughout, but they are not distracting.

    There are no subtitles present on the disc.

    This is a single layered, single-sided disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Originally produced for television in the 1980s, there is only one audio option, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync suffers at times, but generally they are fine.

    The musical score is credited to Georges Delerue, and it is very minimal. There is the occasional and effective use of source music, such as gramophones playing German waltzes while prisoners are being unloaded from the trains.

    With stereo audio, there is no surround presence or LFE activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras.


    A simple menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. It is static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Escape From Sobibor has the same disc in every region, from R1 to R6.


    Without being graphically violent, Escape From Sobibor still manages to provide a haunting and sickening experience. While one may view the escape as a happy ending, one can't help but feel depressed by this story, and the history that surrounds it.

    The video quality is slightly disappointing but still very watchable.

    The audio quality is acceptable albeit quite limited.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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