Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Heartbreaking and Beautiful!!!!Sept. 7 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
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!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1939 Poland: Caught Between Germans & RussiansNov. 5 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
At the explosive dawning of World War II, an Orthodox Rabbi's beautiful daughter (Rachel) and a deeply disenchanted young German soldier (Oscar), who is undercover posing as a Polish partisan, fall in love, and are quickly separated by the ongoing horrors of the war.
They struggle on a perilous journey to find one another in the midst of the Shoah. The situation is made more complicated due to Rachel's upcoming, pre-arranged marriage to a humble, observant Orthodox young man (Bernard).
Oscar's father is a German General, also stationed in Poland, but clearly sold out 100% to the 3rd Reich cause of forced Lebensraum ("living space") via displacement, dispossession & extermination) complicating this drama even more between father & son, while Oscar's mother understands his mounting apprehensions.
The film also has plenty of action dealing with on-the-run Jewish refugees including Bernard and Rachel, attempting to combat tormenting regular German Wehrmacht troops, plus SS butchers hunting them deep in the dense forests, coupled with systematic German instigated genocide of other impoverished, displaced Jewish rural populations throughout German subjugated Poland.
Sections of this tense, at times romantic, action packed war picture show a ruthless, robotic, female Russian NKVD intelligence officer & her fellow undercover Russian clandestine operatives who she commands. Their duty is to gather detailed information on current & future German troop movements near the Russian border, by capturing German troops, as well as the ongoing liquidation of anti-Bolshevik Poles & Jews in the Russian occupied zones of eastern Poland, bordering the expanding repressive Stalinist empire of 1939.
I found some confusion concerning various time frames throughout this movie, but those can be overlooked thanks to fine outdoor cinematography, along with the very capable actors & actresses, making this Holocaust era film well worth viewing.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Lacks credibilityJune 29 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
"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
Love it!March 11 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Confused on the reviews for this movie! I think the acting was awesome! The story line was slightly weak but they were trying to fit a whole year into 90 minutes! Great WWII love story, especially for people who like movies about another time! Plus buying is cheaper than renting since this movie is not on HULU or Netflix!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Poor attempt at originality.May 6 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
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.