Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport Review

Sep 13, 2000 | 8:00pm EDT

For nine months prior to World War II in an extraordinary act of mercy the United Kingdom opened its doors to over 10 000 Jewish and other children escaping the clutches of the Third Reich. The organization and transportation of these children from Germany Austria and Czechoslovakia into foster homes and hostels was known as the Kindertransport (child transport). Stills newsreel footage re-creations and present-day interviews with children and parents who experienced this event form the narrative.

Single-camera interviews with Kindertransport survivors are the backbone of this stirring documentary. Interspersed with intensely researched films and salvaged photographs are simple straightforward accounts of practical emotional and often amusing experiences. Weaved sparingly throughout the film narrator Judi Dench gives "Into the Arms of Strangers" the proper authoritative voice bridging the many engrossing stories by tangible real people.

Equally balancing the tragedies of wartime with the precious celebration of life and family director Harris (writer/director of the Academy Award-winning "The Long Way Home " an account of post-war Holocaust survivors) manages to capture the heart and soul of these courageous and often unwitting children past and present. Additional credit must be paid to Gary Rydstrom's ("Toy Story 2 " "Titanic") phenomenal well-crafted sound design which allows the footage and photography to leap from the screen and raise this documentary into an involving three-dimensional tale. Together these two filmmakers make a formidable team.

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