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Hearts of War [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jonathan Scarfe, Nina Dobrev, Zachary Bennett, Kim Coates, Daryl Hannah
  • Directors: Damian Lee
  • Writers: Jack Crystal
  • Producers: Damian Lee, David Crystal, Gregg Goldstein, Jack Crystal, Joe Barzo
  • Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • Release Date: April 28 2009
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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By kendra boutilier on Dec 6 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This movie was amazing. Nina was spectacular in it. For a Bulgarian, she was amazing at being polish. Keep it up!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Heartbreaking and Beautiful!!!! Sept. 7 2009
By Yahaira - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Having always been attracted to the concept of forbidden love, the idea of a German soldier falling in love with a Jewish girl during the WWII era was too good to pass up when I saw it at the video store.
The story was passionate and entrathalling... I could not turn away despite the numerous pitfalls that occur to the lead actors. Both Oskar and Rachel start off in the story as naive and romantic people, whose love is disrupted by the cruelties of the war and the expectations of Oskar by his general father. As the story progresses, the harsh realities of war force these two to grow up and do unthinkable things. Oskar becomes his father's son and furthers the German cause, learning to kill in the blink of an eye. Rachel, on the other hand, is forced to become a prostitute for German soldiers in order to feed and clothe her baby. Bernard, her husband, has to accept it all because he loves Rachel and the baby she had with Oskar.
Survival becomes the key element of this story, even more than the love between Oskar and Rachel. Some reviewers were upset by the lack of realism in the story, but this is what war is all about. People suffering and doing things they never would have though themselves capable of doing. The story serves to illustrate the inhumanity of wars, how destructive and evil they are.
In the end, Oskar and Rachel find each other again, never having lost they felt for one another. The fact that they still had the capacity to love after all they had been through was pretty miraculous. A heartwrenching story with a happy ending, a truly wonderful movie!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Lacks credibility June 29 2009
By Z Hayes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
"Hearts of War" was originally titled "The Poet" [the European release], and is a Holocaust/WW II drama. The movie begins in 1939 as the Germans invade and occupy Poland. Rachel [Nina Dobrev] is a rabbi's daughter who gets lost in a snowstorm and is rescued by an undercover German officer, Oscar Koenig [Jonathan Scarfe]. The next morning, Rachel awakes to see the smitten Oscar and they both make love. This is the beginning of a series of plot implausibilities. Even if one were to take into account that both Rachel and Oscar genuinely fell in love, I think the story would have had more credibility if they had at least spent a bit more time getting to know each other. I mean, Rachel is an orthodox rabbi's daughter and betrothed to someone else! I do not think it was common for a girl of such upbringing to fling convention to the winds and have sex with a virtual, albeit handsome stranger.

That aside, the movie just does not flow well - there are a few different story arcs that run through the movie, but are not fused seamlessly. Rachel ends up getting separated from Oscar, finds herself pregnant, and later agrees to marry selfless Bernard, a Jewish young man who is hopelessly in love with Rachel. The pair have to navigate a treacherous and uncertain path and fight against the odds to stay alive. Oscar meanwhile, pines away for his love whilst under pressure from his peers and his domineering father to act like a 'good German soldier'. His heart just isn't in fighting, preferring to write 'deep' poems instead. There are some notable names in this movie that are totally wasted - Daryl Hannah plays Oscar's sympathetic mother, who hardly bats an eyelid when Oscar proclaims he loves a Jewish girl. Roy Scheider appears briefly as a rabbi who marries Rachel and Bernard.

The movie ultimately suffers from a lack of credibility - not just in the storyline such as the unconvincing romance but also in the action sequences which come off as lame and poorly executed. There's also a story arc later on in the movie where Rachel masquerades as Christina, a singer who sleeps with German officers to survive. I'm sorry, perhaps such stories did occur during the war, but at this point, I was beyond caring what happened to anyone in the movie.

I've watched many Holocaust dramas and there are some really stellar productions out there. "Hearts of War" isn't one of them. Here are some Holocaust dramas that I've found riveting and credibly done:
Fateless - a young boy's horrific Holocaust experience in the camps
Out of the Ashes - a doctor's experiences in Auschwitz return to haunt her after the war
The Devil's Arithmetic - based on a novel, this centers on a young Jewish girl (played by Kirsten Dunst) who goes back in time to the period of the Holocaust
Black Book - action-based Holocaust drama
Escape From Sobibor - centers on Russian POWs and Jewish prisoners escaping from the Sobibor camp during the Holocaust (based on true events)
Gloomy Sunday - tragic romance set during the Holocaust in Hungary
Sunshine - three generations of Jews from the same family and their experiences during the Holocaust
War and Remembrance: The Complete Epic Mini-Series - lengthy mini-series on WW II, with a compelling portrayal of the Holocaust that is harrowing to watch
Holocaust - mini-series on the experiences of members of a Jewish family during the Holocaust. Very graphic and truly tragic.
Amen - the Holocaust from the POV of a German chemist/Nazi officer and a Catholic priest
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Poor attempt at originality. May 6 2011
By Tommy Dooley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This film has an interesting plot and a good cast so why is it so wrong? Well the synopsis is that a young German Officer finds and saves a young Polish Jewish girl from a snow storm It is love at first sight despite the fact that she is to marry the following week and well things happen. I actually found all of that believable probably due to the strength of the acting between Jonathan Scarfe (Oscar Koenig) and Nina Dobrev as Rachel. They do have certain on screen chemistry. Oh she is a rabbis' daughter too just to cement her Jewishness and his Dada is a big Nazi General just to get over how `wrong' this whole set up is.

Without wanting to spoil the plot I will say the following, from this point onwards it starts to become a very good lesson in how to not make a film. Writer Jack Crystal could not have thought that coincidence upon ludicrous coincidence would make a good film. There are more plot hols in this film than any I have ever seen. Even with a leap of faith this does not work and the whole thing has the effect of alienating the viewer. Daryl Hannah even gets Oscars' name wrong at one point calling him `Arthur' I was so shocked I went back and watched it again. On its release in the USA Jay Seaver of eCritic said `You're not supposed to laugh at movies like "The Poet"..Once the audience is snickering, you've failed. Released in the States as "Hearts of War", even with a name change it remains still the very poor film it was under that title.

PLOT Spoiler Alert - here are some of the plot holes.

Oscar arriving in the nick of time to save Rachel and Bernard, and the German soldiers not even questioning his excuse.
Oscar killing a fellow soldier and nothing more is said.
The language I can forgive even though he is suppose to be fluent in every language going including Russian, and yet always speaks with his put on accent - as indeed do everyone.
When they are getting married they have a celebration with music and no-one has thought to be on the look out for the Germans.
Once again they are the only survivors the same as the village massacre.
Arriving at the German Forward camp in Russia, where in a nano second she goes from being the daughter of a Polish Rabbi in the backwoods of nowhere to being a top cabaret artist and call girl.
The fact that the Germans call her baby a `Jew', and yet Bernard won't admit to being a Jew to the Russians.
The fact that she sleeps with Oscar's father is a plot twist far too far to be believable.
The fact that Oscar turns up there at all.

The fact that despite the vast size of both Poland and Russia, the characters seem to stumble across one another with the frequency of childish lovers in the same bedroom. I could go on the one thing I can say is that it only last ninety odd minutes, but if you do not make it to the end you will not miss anything as everyone gets killed. Everyone except Oscar and Rachel that is, so a complete fairy tale ending.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the Worst Movie I Have Ever Seen Sept. 1 2010
By M. E. Dungo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
No one should be allowed to buy this except at gunpoint. It has all the elements of a bad movie- a dumb plot, improbable circumstances, lousy acting, bad-looking actors, awful script, misplaced period instances, hollow characters, incompetent direction and cheap sets.

It had absolutely no drama whatsoever. I would rather watch Showgirls back-to-back with Evita again than this. Avoid.

Another thing:at least it was a clear copy. The star is for the good trailer that came with it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Dead poet society Oct. 6 2011
By Anthony Hand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Inside 'The Poet' (appallingly retitled 'Hearts of war') there may be a decent film trying to get out, but it's buried so deep that one is forced to wonder. Jack Crystal's impossible script smothers any kind of reality, any kind of honesty... through the provision of one cliché after another until the film becomes utterly un-watchable and unintentionally laughable.

The main plot device of 'The Poet' centres around Wehrmacht Officer Oscar Koenig (Johnathan Scarfe), a bog standard 'Good German' stereotype who falls in love with a hopelessly sweet Rabbi's daughter, Rachel (Nina Dobrev), itself a Hollywood stereotype. Unfortunately, for Oskar, his squeeze is already set to marry her unbelievably noble Jewish fiancé Bernard (Zachary Bennett), who even when he finds out that his potential missus has done the dirty on him behind his back (with a German of all things), still decides to marry Rachel and bring up the kid. Oskar helps Rachel and Bernard escape and asks Bernard to "look after her" as he watches the pair stumble off to an uncertain future.

It really is as ridiculous as it sounds.

The problems with the 'The Poet' are too numerous to mention here and apparent from the beginning. Oskar and Rachel's instant love sparks off in a snowstorm and is so unrealistic that the whole movie is set up for a fall at the start. Love at first sight may exist, but this is the stuff of Hollywood and the bad side of Hollywood at that. It's difficult to imagine anyone taking it seriously, or at least seriously enough to buy into the basic premise of the film. In fairness, it's in part a problem with the budget in the fact that there just isn't enough running time devoted to showing the development of the love affair and the scope of the historic setting is way beyond the films capacity. On top of this, the characters of `The Poet' are all simple cardboard. Just enough to resemble people, but nowhere near any kind of realistic personalities. Presented here are the usual German every Nazi's, the aforementioned 'Good German' who's good because he's a "poet" and of course the Hollywood copyrighted depiction of "the Jews", who are nothing but honest, noble and shining lights of humanity. Nobody on offer here is a reflection of real living people and that inevitably lets the story down with a crashing, disastrous bang.

Not only are the characters unrealistic, but they are placed in unrealistic situations by Crystal's nonsensical script. Oskar's father, a German General wholeheartedly committed to the Nazi ideal in a way only Hollywood can come up with, also has a wife cheating "relationship" with Rachel. But, only because the script demands it. To everyone else, it's stupid and insulting.

In short, the second half of the film is defined by a "supreme tragic event", which I won't reveal, and Rachel and Bernard are put in an uncompromising position involving Soviet partisans and Oskar's German soldiers. This leads to the film's utterly incredible conclusion and thankfully, the end credits.

'The Poet' possibly could have been a good film, but only if the script had been more steadily considered and if the producers had abandoned stereotypical clichés in favour of thinking 'outside the box', if I can use that irritating term. The idea is ok, but why does Rachel have to be Jewish? She could have been Polish or even Russian and why does Oskar have to be the only German the audience can identify with?

There is no pleasure in watching 'The Poet', it's a difficult viewing, not because it challenges the viewer in any uncomfortable way, but because it makes the viewer wonder why the hell they are sitting there watching the whole farce unfold, when there are so many other things to do...like washing the dishes, or mowing the lawn.