Monday, January 18, 2016

Movie and Book Matchup: "Aftermath" directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski and "Neighbors" by Jan T Gross

If you've been around the blog long enough (actually, literally no time at all) you will have noticed that I read a lot of WWII books, and am a bit of a Europhile. This movie showed up in the recommendations in my Netflix queue and since I am the household gatekeeper of the netflix it showed up in my mailbox not long after.

So here's the story - Franciszek has lived in Chicago for 20 years, but has come back to the small Polish village where he grew up to see his brother Jozef. Jozef's wife has recently divorced him and fled with his children all the way to the United States. Things are already a little bit tense with their reunion, but then Jozef brings up how his brother didn't come back to Poland for the funerals of either of their parents.

It doesn't take long for Francizek to realize that there is also some weird tension between his brother and the other villagers, people they've both known their whole lives. Finally it comes out that Jozef has destoryed a road on the outskirts of town, which confuses the hell out of Francizek until he realizes what the road was made out of: tombstones that had been taken from the Jewish cemetery and used to pave the roads during WWII. Jozef has dug them out of the road, and set them up in one of his farm's fields.(There is a very beautiful, sad shot of all of these old headstones set up in this high grass field.) A very loud argument ensues. Things get more dangerous for both of the brothers as Francizek struggles to figure out what is going on in his brother's head AND the head's of the other villagers.


My take- By the end of the movie I realized why I had been drawn to it in the first place. The movie was inspired by a real life event that was also recounted in the book "Neighbors" by Jan T Gross. The book, like this movie, was sad and compelling and made you question humanity and why we as humans have an equally deep capacity for treating each other terribly and with great love. 

It's also pretty ballsy for this to be a Polish movie because it does not paint the Poles in the best light. A lot of terrible things happened to the Poles in WWII, but they also perpetrated some terror as well.

Head's up: It's in Polish, you gottsta read the subtitles.

It's not a movie that I will watch again and again and again but it's something I'm very glad I saw.

Aftermath USA Poster.jpg

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