Europa, Europa (1990)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-May-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Trailer-Indochine
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 108:40 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Agnieszka Holland
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Marco Hofschneider
Julie Delpy
René Hofschneider
Piotr Kozlowski
André Wilms
Ashley Wanninger
Halina Labonarska
Klaus Abramowsky
Michèle Gleizer
Marta Sandrowicz
Nathalie Schmidt
Delphine Forest
Martin Maria Blau
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Zbigniew Preisner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, consistent with era
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Europa Europa tells the amazing true story of Solomon (Solly) Perel, a survivor of World War 2.

    Perel wrote a book of his life entitled Hitlerjunge Salomon which was filmed and released in 1990 under that name. For release in the west the name of the film was changed to Europa Europa. The book charts the extraordinary story of a teenage Jew living in Nazi Germany as the war begins (played convincingly by newcomer Marco Hofschneider) . Forced to leave Germany after Kristelnacht, in which Nazi thugs and angry mobs destroyed Jewish shops and killed stray Jews (including his beloved sister), he travels to Poland with his family who believed that this would be a flight to safety. From there his position gets worse as he is torn between the God-denying communists and the Jew-hating Germans.

    Captured by the Germans he is able to bluff them that he is a pure-bred German forced to live in a Russian orphanage and this, together with an ability to speak Russian, makes him invaluable to the unit. He takes on the identity of Peter Josephs, nicknamed Jupp, and becomes the mascot of the unit. When an act of desertion is misunderstood as heroism he is offered a rare chance; to go to study at the finest Hitler Youth Academy in Germany and dedicate himself to the love of the Fatherland and the hatred of the Jews!

    The film is something of a picaresque journey, albeit with some knife-edged drama along the way. His lack of a foreskin is the constant touchstone of possible detection and death and he develops some unique and some painful ways in which to conceal his omission. Even more problematic is the love that develops between him and a young German girl, Leni, played by a young Julie Delpy, who is about the most rabid Jew-hater he knows.

    The film examines our ability and willingness in the face of danger to adapt to our environment. He subsumes his faith to survive, something his long-bearded obviously Jewish father refused to do. Can he be criticised for this decision or should he have joined his family in the Warsaw ghetto and eventually a concentration camp?

    As if his waking life was not challenging enough Solly often dreams of his disapproving family. Some Jews were no doubt critical of his choice but it must be remembered that he was a teenage boy at the time of the war just trying to survive. Although director Agnieszka Holland touches on moments of uncomfortability, such as when Solly marches around a parade ground with a bunch of Hitler Youth singing violently anti-Semitic songs, she does not force the point, such as in Donnie Brasco where undercover agent Johnny Depp is forced to commit violence to hide his identity.

    The film was also controversial for its open depiction of the various Nazis Solly meets as fairly ordinary human beings albeit with hatred of the Jews sown into their souls. It was not a success in its native Germany and was overlooked for selection as that country's foreign film entrant in the 1991 Academy Awards ( although it did get a Best Adapted Script nomination). It became one of the most financially successful German films ever and represents a high point in the long and distinguished career of Agnieszka Holland

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Europa Europa was shot on 35mm film at an original aspect ratio of 1.66:1. On DVD it receives a letterboxed 4x3 transfer (1.66:1, not 16x9 enhanced) and is therefore lacking in some widescreen grandeur.

    The film has aged which can be seen in the slightly faded colours and soft image. Having said that the print is fairly clean with only minor artefacts and mild grain being its only other vice.

    There are no problems with aliasing or edge enhancement.

    The film is subtitled (removable) and these are clear and easy to read.

    The layer change is at 102.07 and resulted in a brief dropout of sound on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    If the video transfer for Europa Europa is passable the audio quality is less impressive . The sound is German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). That in itself is not a huge problem as dialogue is at the heart of the film but the sound quality is poor. The lip sync appears to be out at various stages, particularly in the scenes where Solly is speaking Russian. The audio is thin and lifeless generally.

    Music is by Zbigniew Preisner who would go on to make such a big impact with his original theme in Three Colours Blue, which Director Holland scripted. In this film his theme is memorable although used sparingly.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Unfortunately Europa Europa comes without any sizeable extras. As director Holland is still with us it would have been nice to have been given a commentary track from her.

Trailers

    A short selection of trailers for other Umbrella releases.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 release contains a theatrical trailer but otherwise the R1 edition is the same as the Region 4 release.

Summary

    Although Europa Europa has aged a bit in visual quality and style since its 1990 release it remains a fascinating account of survival in the face of horrifying evil. It also represents Polish director Hollands' defining movie and is a welcome addition to the Umbrella Films series of modern classics. Only the indifferent transfer prevents the movie from scoring higher.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo DV-SP300, using Component output
DisplayNEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE