3rd German Film Week
"It’s a testament to Rafle’s skill as a director that even though we see these interviews from the beginning and know that the characters survived, The Invisibles keeps you on the edge of your seat." – Hannah Brown, The Jerusalem Post
Berlin, February 1943: The Nazi regime declares the Reich's capital “free of Jews.” At this point in time, 7000 Jews have succeeded in going underground. Almost 1700 will survive the horrors of the war in Berlin. The Invisibles tells the stories of four of these contemporary witnesses.
Hanni Lévy, who has just turned 17, has lost both of her parents. Thanks to her dyed, blonde hair, she is practically invisible to her pursuers, and strolls along the Ku'damm to pass the time away. Cioma Schönhaus has also gone underground and leads an adventurous life that consists of buying a sailboat, dining in Berlin's best restaurants, and becoming a forger of passports, through which he saves the lives of dozens of other Jews. And while Eugen Friede joins a resistance group that distributes antigovernment leaflets, Ruth Arndt and a friend dream about life in America during the daytime; at night, she pretends to be a war widow and serves black-market gourmet foods in the apartment of a Nazi officer.
Source: Beta Cinema
Film ReViewThe Invisibles tells the stories of Jews who survived in Berlin in hiding during the Holocaust, even after the declaration of Nazis that the city is officially free of them, and intersperses these narratives with interviews with the actual survivors and footage of the war. Four of them share their personal experiences: Cioma, an art student who uses his skills in forging passports, thereby helping others escape the city; Eugen, an attractive teenager forced to move from one family to another to save his life, always at the mercy of strangers; Hanni, a young lady who dyes her hair blonde so as not to be mistaken as Jew and wanders the streets of Berlin constantly cautious; and Ruth, a woman who pretends to be a war widow to be able to go out and eventually finds herself serving Nazis in an officer’s home. Their paths do not cross, but they all share the horror and terror of the war, and having survived it, having lived to tell the tale, their stories provide the film with undeniable emotional power.
The integration of the accounts of Holocaust survivors into the film, potent and gripping in their raw sincerity, is the soul of the film. Their interviews make up the narrative structure and flow, the centre from which the dramatization, compellingly told and acted, takes its cue. Viewers who have read and seen many Holocaust stories will find The Invisibles too familiar, even derivative, but in one of history’s darkest moments, clearly, no two stories are the same, no two Jews escaping Nazi persecution have the same story to tell. The film is rich in details (the forgery done by Cioma quickly comes to mind) and boasts elegant art direction, but what it manages to impress on the audience is the universal virtues of kindness and humanity in the gravest of times, the triumph of goodwill amid evil, the hope that springs eternal — principles that never look or feel iffy or clumsily handled in the film. When the viewers learn about what has happened to the four survivors in real life, after hearing them talk about their own experiences, it is hard to hold back tears.
- Richard Bolisay
Richard Bolisay is a writer and film critic based in Manila. His essays on cinema have appeared in various publications online and in print. He is a participant of the Berlinale Talent Press and Locarno Critics Academy, and has been part of the jury of, among others, the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Follow him on Twitter @richardbolisay.
German title: Die Unsichtbaren
Director: Claus Räfle
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, War
Duration: 110 mins
Awards and Nominations
40th Mill Valley Film Festival 2017, Audience Favorite and World Cinema Silver Audience Award
28th San Diego Jewish Film Festival, Audience Choice
SM Aura Premier
Nov 8 - 9:30pm
SM City North EDSA
Nov 7 - 9:30pm
St. Louis University - Baguio
Nov 19 - 5:00pm
University of San Carlos - Cebu City
Liceo de Cagayan University - Cagayan de Oro
Dec 8 - 9:30am