Pasazerka (The Passenger) Reviews
One way to describe the film is by the narrator's words at the end - "it is about crimes committed by people who are still human". As the central part of the film is narrated by a female Auschwitz junior supervisor, we see, in the first person, how thin, or easy to cross, is the line from innocence to crime, how easy it might be to see oneself not as a perpetrator but as a victim.
The "open ending" character of the film is not confusing - it seems logical, consistent, pointing to the terrible freedom we humans have when deciding our actions, fate, responsibility.
The central part of the movie takes part in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The gory reality of that place is shown almost as a sideline, just enough so there is no doubt about enormity of the crime, so there is no forgetting of the real victims, but without numbing the viewer. After all, the true scope of the crime can be only understood by somebody who is still human, still capable of thought and human emotion, who is not reduced to a terrorized witness.
The film, despite being produced well within the era of communist Poland, is untainted by any - then common - communist ideology dictates. So it survives well the test of time. It is also rather untainted by (otherwise understandable) Polish sense of victimhood. While it is a powerful presentation of the incomprehensible reality of the Holocaust, it seems to lay bare much about human frailty and strength anywhere, anytime.
I think this film has a firm place in an even most select canon of works presenting the collective human experience of the WWII for all us to remember.
You may search YouTube for fragments of the film, hopefully the full restored version of the film will be at some point (legally) freely available online, as are available already some other works of Munk from the same studio.