Fateless - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Fateless Reviews

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March 31, 2014
While I definitely think the subject matter is important and it's not a badly made film, it just wasn't for me. Or maybe it was just my mood the day I tried to watch it- but either way, I couldn't put myself through it. The acting is good, and it's not that it isn't interesting- I just couldn't put myself through it.
½ October 12, 2013
An interesting movie about the personal experience of a Hungarian Jew during the Holocaust.

Still, you cannot really empathize with the weird apathetic personality of the main character until the last reflections of the movie.
½ April 5, 2013
Rising Above Personal Horror, learning the Meaning of Life in a Concentration Camp--Hauntingly beautiful!!
January 21, 2013
This is a great movie based on the autobiographical novel by Nobel Prize winning novelist Imre Kertész. It tells the story of a teenage Hungarian Jewish boy sent to the Nazi death camps near thye end of the war. The horrors of the camps, and of the Nazi's antisemitism in general, are well represented but not the major concern of the film. It is much more about survival -- bodily and spiritually -- amid the banality of evil in the camps. The viewer hopefully will agree with the boy in the end that life is worth living and that more important than the horrors is the reality that some happiness could be found even in the midst of the evil of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
December 27, 2012
Im not interested in the storyline.
December 7, 2012
Want to see it! Will have to take into account!
½ November 6, 2012
the film name is fateless, but the film has a fate
October 1, 2012
The cinematography was beautiful.
½ August 5, 2012
The cinematography was amazing. This movie moved me beyond words. Seeing atrocities being carried out in a concentration camp through the eyes of a young boy in his teens made me weep. Its an intense tale of survival through unimaginable situations.
May 13, 2012
Some beautiful images that rely more often on our prior understanding of Holocaust knowledge than embedding us in the character's struggles.
May 1, 2012
Of all the Holocaust films I've seen.. this has to be the most raw, graphic, disturbing and sad.... I hope God will forgive all the wrong that humankind has done....
February 12, 2012
This is definitely a must see. I almost didn't watch it because I can't speak Hungarian nor have I ever heard of Hungarian film. You won't see something so hauntingly realistic in Hollywood cinema (apart from Schindler's List).
½ August 9, 2011
May 22, 2011
Very compelling and original take on the Holocaust. The story and acting could have been sufficient to make this a perfect film, if not for a few stumbles by veteran cinematographer but freshman director Lajos Koltai. Still, this is a very well done film overall, well worth seeing, and a movie that makes me interested to see more movies from Hungary.
April 13, 2011
When several years ago I first read SORSTALANSAG ("Fatelessness"), the debut of Hungarian novelist Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz, I was struck by its unusual take on the Holocaust. Most stories about the concentration camps speak of how the human spirit can survive monstrous and hellish conditions, but Kertesz, a Holocaust survivor himself, suggests that to call the camps monstrous or hellish is to admit that the human spirit was in some way affected or oppressed by them after all. When I heard that a film was going to be made from the novel, with Kertesz himself penning the screenplay, my expectations were high. While I do prefer the novel to the film, I found the film quite moving indeed, and among its few faults one does not find, thanks to Kertesz's involvement, the usual ridiculous tropes of Hollywood adaptations.

The novel was autobiographical, and the film is even more so. In 1944 young Gyorgy Koves (played by Marcell Nagy), part of a Budapest Jewish family, says goodbye to his father, called up for war labour. (Those who know Budapest will marvel at how well 1940s Budapest is reconstructed for the film.) Koves doesn't suspect that mere weeks later, he and several of his peers, and ultimately an enormous amount of their Jewish neighbours are sent off to Auschwitz. Koves survives the extermination camp, only to pass through Buchenwald and end up labouring in appalling conditions in Zeitz. The bulk of the story is Koves' experiences in the concentration camp, learning from a fellow Hungarian prisoner (Aron Dimeny) the need to keep one's chin up and take pleasure from the most trifling things in order to avoid the most fatal of emotions in the camp: despair. Director Lajos Koltai has long experience has a cinematographer, and here he impressively has concentration camp scenes shot in such a way that all colour is drained, and the entirely convincing set design is present here as well.

While Kertesz' ending is just as shocking as in the book, the general theme of ordinary acceptance of one's circumstances is not as strongly pronounced through most of the film. This is probably due to the lack of first-person narration here, where Koves can speak at length about his feelings. Some of the scenes are stiched together very loosely in the film, so that at one moment the ill Koves suffers in a packed tent and at the next moment he finds himself in a fairly well-equipped officer's hospital with little explanation for the viewer. The liberation of the camp similarly comes suddenly here: after an extremely brief scene of Koves hearing gunfire in the distance at night, we immediately go to a sunny scene where people are walking around freely. New to the film is an exchange between Koves and an American soldier, impressively played by Daniel Craig who for better and worse is now better known as the new James Bond. Other changes from the novel, though not too objectionable, include the addition of a young love for Koves before he is sent off to the camps, and the absence of the social conflicts between Yiddish-speaking ("real") Jews and the more assimilated Jews of Hungary, and between those who just want to get with their lives and those who naively plan of a new, more just Communist Hungary.

Among films on the Holocaust, FATELESS is one of the very best. I'm very much appalled that it received such limited distribution, for as a film in itself, it is certainly a five-star affair. My comments and reservations on it are those of one who is keeping always the original novel in mind. If you don't care too much to read the book, see FATELESS anyway and ignore my points. I only wish that the one theme that made the novel so unique and punch-in-the-gut unexpected were more present here.
March 20, 2011
What shall I say, It was a fair movie. This is neither good or bad. But it seem kind of distant when it comes to the colours and the feeling of this film, natural light would be nice enough. It kind of force us to burst into tears. I wish I could give it a thumbs up, but it just trying to much. Thumbs down.
February 20, 2011
Judy Segal and Jack Adler, child survivor of the HOLOCAUST. Great film..
February 10, 2011
This is simply amazing. It should be awarded from every single point of view.
½ January 30, 2011
In 1997, Imre Kertesz published an article he titled "Who owns Auschwitz". In a short few paragraphs, he theorized the future of the most infamous Nazi German concentration camp as it drifts further and further away from reality into the history books. In Kertezs' eyes, the more media attention is placed on the Holocaust, the more the event fades into the realm of the unimaginable:

"Thus we immediately got a stylization of the Holocaust, a stylization which has by now grown to nearly unbearable dimensions. The word "Holocaust" is already a stylization, an affected abstraction from more brutal-sounding terms like "extermination camp" or "Final Solution." Nor should it come as any surprise, as more and more is said about the Holocaust, that its reality the day to day reality of human extermination increasingly slips away, out of the realm of the imaginable"

Kortesz follows this with a scathing treatment of Spielberg's legendary "Schindler's List". For Kortesz, Spielberg did the greatest disservice to Holocaust survivors by his entire misrepresentation of the events, calling the movie kitsch. For Hungarian Nobel Prize winner, all Schindler's List does is to further dramatize the events, casting them further away from the realm of true human nature and creating a scenario in which somehow, man can go through such an experience and come out safe and sound (as Spielberg shows by bringing color to the film in the last few minutes).

Well, it looks as if the makers of Fateless were listening to him. The film is less about showing the bloody and horrifying events than about the human experience. How such an event can irrevocably alter our persona. There is no overt brutality in the film, no Nazis shooting innocent children left and right. Death, while ever present, is not represented in anyway as vividly as it is in Schindler's List. Yet it is clear that death is all around, and can creep in at any moment. Rather than the grim detail, the movie haunts us with its depiction of the deterioration of man in such an environment. At the same time the film depicts how hard pressed we are in such difficult times to find some sense of happiness and cheer. Gyuri (the narrator and protagonist) finds a sense of peace and kinship when breaking during supper time, a time where he can fraternize with his close friends, or finds cheer in discovering a small piece of meet or potato in his soup. The film, perhaps moreso than any other involving the Holocaust, gives us a personal glimpse into the mind of the inmate (and a real one, as the film is based entirely on the experiences of Kortesz).

As Kortezs mentioned in his article, the Holocaust did not end with the destruction of the extermination camps and the movie traces Gyuri's steps from inmate into victim and the emotions that carry with it. In one scene he is sitting with a number of other survivors in the ruins of what was once the city of Dresden and watches as they laugh at the destruction and misery of the Germans in the city. Gyuri returns to his home in Budapest but feels more alone than ever before. Neither can his old family friends comfort (as much as they lack any understanding over what he went through) nor can he find any solace in being a "survivor", longing to reacquaint himself with happy breaks he once had with his comrades in the camp.

Kortezs here did not write a victims story, as Gyuri rejects this and instead will opt to talk about the happy moments he had in the camp so that he can return to a normal life and future.

The film has much more in common with the themes of Live is Beautiful, which Kortesz has openly lauded in the same article mention above, than with the starkness, cruelness and artistic "realism" of Schindler's List. The theme of innocence and loss of it is very much a theme of both this and La Vita e bella. It is an inspiring move, if still traumatic.
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