The One about Andrzej Wajda’s “Korczak”

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“Korczak” is a powerful film that highlights one of the well-known humanitarians of the holocaust.

Where monuments of Dr. Janusz Korczak is seen in Warsaw, of him holding the hands of children. He has left a legacy showcasing one man’s refusal to adapt to the enemy’s status quo, he was a man who also was unselfish. Knowing he could escape and live a free life away from Nazi Germany, he didn’t.

He was a man that was compassionate to the children and he, along with his staff were not going to abandon them. It was his sense of responsibility and honor which he would be remembered for.

It’s important to note that while the film is titled “Korczak”, it’s not a film meant to glorify the man. What makes this film so important is that Andrzej Wajda gives us a visual of how badly things were for Polish Jews. From extermination to being beaten, we see how children had to survive at the orphanage, as some tried to bring back potatoes or food for the orphanage which was becoming depleted of its funds. It’s the setting and despair that Wajda wants people to see. And how one man, still remained to stay true to himself and what he believes is right.

We see how the children were affected and feeling suicidal, we see how the staff had to deal with the deaths of children (who died of sickness or were shot by Nazi’s as they tried to find supplies). Dr. Janusz Korczak was showcased as an honorable man with responsibility. Almost like father to these children but also a man pushed to the brink of despair. He knew that the children were fragile, and it would be up to him and the staff to earn the children’s trust and that they would be there for them and not abandoned.

The portrayal of Dr. Janusz Korczak by Wojciech Pszoniak was fantastic Looking at pictures of Dr. Korczak, Pszoniak looked very similar in appearance but it everything else came together perfectly. It’s one thing to have one child actor but to have many, especially to behave in fear, the child actors were able to play their parts with amazing efficacy. The set and costume design were also well-done and with the footage mixed with archival footage, “Korczak” seemed like it was a film made during that era.

Steven Spielberg said of AndrzeJ Wajda’s “Korczak” as “one of the most important European pictures about the holocaust.”

I personally never knew the story of Janusz Korczak but after watching the film, I found Adrzej Wajda’s film to be so powerful and moving, I found myself spending hours of researching and reading more about him, about his assistant Stefania Wilczynska and anything related to Dr. Korczak.

A moving and heartbreaking film about one doctor refusing to abandon 200 children during the Holocaust. Adrzej Wajda’s “Korczak” is recommended!

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Dennis A. Amith