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Critic Reviews for Kapo
... the documentary detail of the physical recreation and the matter-of-fact evocation of life under such conditions gives it a power beyond the plot...
Pontecorvo is not the visionary firebrand of The Battle of Algiers here. He cares about the subject passionately--as a Jew, and as a Communist leader in the Italian Resistance--but he turns it into pap.
Audience Reviews for Kapo
One of the first films to depict the horrors of the holocaust. Gillo Pontecorvo's blunt, realistic style is perfectly suited for such grim subject matter. Not nearly as well known as his other films, Kapò is a fantastic little hidden gem that's anything but uplifting.
"Kapo" starts with 14-year old Edith(Susan Strasberg) finishing her piano lesson and walking home in Paris where she is caught up in the Nazi dragnet that also claims her parents. Separated at a concentration camp, she is told by another child that they will all be killed in the morning. She runs away in an attempt to be with her parents one last time. Getting lost and afraid, she runs into Sofia(Didi Perego) who takes the girl under her wing to a kindly doctor who forges a new identity for her, exchanging her yellow Star of David for a black triangle, signifying a criminal. This will get her transferred to a work camp with a better chance of survival, even as she witnesses her parents being led into the gas chamber.
Made over 30 years before "Schindler's List," "Kapo," directed by Gillo Pontecorvo(who will go on to make "The Battle of Algiers"), is a stunning, masterly and unflinching depiction of the Holocaust that has quite a lot to say on the nature of identity. The high level of filmmaking is already apparent in the pre-titles sequence(I didn't notice the Star of David at first on Edith's coat until I took a second look). The hierarchy in the camps is well-detailed where survival depends often on the kindest gesture while the Kapos have the power and life and death which they use indiscriminately. Due to the dehumanizing nature of the Nazis' program of extermination, anybody lucky enough to survive would never be the same again. Just don't make a deal with the devil.
Technically sound and often shocking in its stark portrayal of a concentration camp but ultimately doesn't explore its apparent themes and instead wastes time on a boring love story. The climax and ending are great though.
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