In Darkness

I watched the Polish movie, In Darkness.


The movie is based on historical events. Leopold Socha was a sanitation inspector in the City of Lvov, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine). In 1941 the Nazi occupation authorities had forced the Jews there into a ghetto. In 1944 they liquidated the ghetto, meaning that they tried to kill all the people or send them to concentration camps. About 20 Jews escaped through their floor boards into the city’s sewers. Leopold Socha used his knowledge of the sewers to help them hide. He shopped for them and provided them with newspapers and Jewish religious items. He helped them bury their dead. Only 10 of the original 20 survived for 14 months until the Soviets took the city.

At first Leopold, whose side business was trading in the black market, took money from the Jews in exchange for his help. But when they ran out of money, he continued anyway. In 1978 he was posthumously recognized by the State of Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

The movie gives the story an ironic spiritual dimension. The Jew’s place in the sewers is directly below the cathedral. They hear the masses, prayers, and singing. On the day that Leopold’s daughter is receiving her First Communion above, the little group of Jews is celebrating Passover below. The adults eventually find this ludicrous and burst into uncontrollable laughter. But the children comfort each other with the thought that all the prayers reach God.

I don’t know how much the director intended this, but I found the scene where the Jewish folks finally come up out of the manhole into the light of day a powerful image of resurrection. The sewers are full of shadows, rats and feces. Above there is sunlight, gaiety, and flowers—as well as danger and murder. The contrast is between the underworld and the realm of the living.

This movie is not a religious movie in the sense that it shows saints and sinners. Of course, the Nazi bureaucracy and many of the people in it are incredibly depraved. But neither Leopold and his friends nor the Jewish families give us any contenders for sainthood. They are desparate people acting desparately.

And yet it ends with a resurrection.

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About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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