Europa, Europa

Genres: Memoir/True Story/Drama/Historical epic

This is the epic story of war from the perspective of the Hero, a German Jewish 14-year-old teenager caught up in WWII. The Hero’s story of survival in a world gone mad with the backdrop of the Holocaust is but one of the themes running through this story line.

The Character Web is crafted so that we see the horrors of the war through the eyes of the Germans, the Nazis, the Hitler youth, the Russians, the Poles, the German Jews, the Polish Jews, German army foot soldiers, and German society through the eyes of the mother, whose daughter gets pregnant to donate the baby to the Fuhrer and make their family roots more Aryan…

To pull off the Character Web so brilliantly, the script goes beneath the “skin” of all the characters. The weakness/need and moral choices that each character has to make deal with one of the central dilemmas of WWII: Ideologies people had to buy into or fight against in order to survive. The use of subtext in the dialogue, whereby the character never really says what he means leads to an avoidance of conflict, but then an implosion of conflict as the plot moves forward.

The Story World was one of the most authentic ever put to screen: Land, tools, technology, man-made buildings, structures either showing extreme poverty and suffering, or extreme power; the looming and grandiose Third Reich symbols and the institutionalization of the human psyche; the dumbing down while ostensibly seeming to educate – The Lodz ghetto, with the dying Jewish populace amidst a Nazi bureaucracy; train protocol; trolly protocol; army protocol, etc., all displayed with an accuracy down to the tableware and the machinery; the clothing; the murders in plain sight.

All of the structural beats were spot on: The Inciting Incident; the 12 sequences; the mid-point, all leading to the Climax/Battle scene in Sequence 11, right on the mark.

The powerful opening scene is a Brit Mila, the Jewish ritual circumcision that every male child is to have, according to the Torah and Avraham’s covenant with the Jewish people. The Hero has to then hide his Jewishness/circumcised dead give-away self throughout the story. The last scene goes straight back to the first scene and deals with the theme of the covenant of circumcision leading to freedom and redemption. I’m avoiding “spoilers” for anyone who has not seen this film, but the story line self-revelation moment, both to the Hero and the audience is epic and powerful.

Story World, which mirrored the flaws and the Character Arc of the Hero, was a large part of the evolution of the story. It echoed the chaos, the destruction, the slavery of mankind at one of the world’s darkest moments.