Steal a Pencil for Me - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Steal a Pencil for Me Reviews

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October 25, 2014
One of THE BEST documentaries I have ever seen (and I watch a lot of them!)
October 18, 2013
I hate to rate this documentary so low as it deals with a tragic and touching story of two lovers trying to stay together in Nazi work camps but the production left a ton to be desired. The story of Jack and Ina is great romance but the direction left much to be desired and the slow pace and lack of compelling visual imagery just didn't do the story of Jack and Ina justice.
November 26, 2012
What a beautiful film--I LOVED it!
October 1, 2012
Through great atrocities love blossoms. How wonderful. When Jack was talking to the kids at Westerbrok....I cried.
February 25, 2012
A believable and deeply touching story of an unimaginable romance that happened in Holland in World War II and bloomed in the horrible camps at Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen. Two Dutch Jews, Jaap Polak and Ina Soep, did what young lovers do, in a sadly minimum way while they endured the terrors of the camps and struggled to stay alive. Their final escape from Bergen-Belsen, on separate trains bound in opposite directions, kept them apart only for a few desperate months. In this deliberately understated film, they dance at their 60th wedding anniversary and recount only as much of their experience as we would want-they maintain some privacy, while celebrating their love over so many years. The best moments for me were in a scene with school children on a family outing at a WWII camp location that remains as a memorial to the dead. Jaap talks plainly to the kids who stand listening, mutely attentive to the old man and perhaps unable to fully grasp the meaning of his words. A mother uses the moment to remind her children that "this man is Jewish, but he is no different from us." Jaap and Ina are old, and they are Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, and they are happy now. I don't want to be different from them.
October 31, 2011
At first I thought this wasn't going to be something I was interested in.. But after just a few minutes I was drawn in. Excellent!
½ August 17, 2011
Not even Hollywood could invent a romance more extraordinary than this one.
January 9, 2011
This is an excellent documentary about something very important that should never, ever be forgotten- but it's a documentary, and thus is a bit dry sometimes. Besides that, though, this is excellent and should not be missed.
August 13, 2010
A strange story of survival and love through writing letters -- what I found most interesting about it was the sense that, in spite of the dehumanization around them, here was a group of people who miraculously managed to stay together, in contact, and lived to tell about it in strong words after over 60 years.
May 23, 2010
I watched this documentary this morning - so touching, and it stays with you.
½ April 18, 2010
This documentary shares a beautifully told love story that began during, and sustained through, the Holocaust. A moving pleasure.
Super Reviewer
January 31, 2010
A touching story about two people whose loved kept them going during the holocaust. At times this really played on the emotions. Well told and interesting.
January 22, 2010
"Steal A Pencil for Me" is not a conventional Holocaust story though the people featured in it were Holocaust victims. I say this because the story is mainly an exploration of the relationship between two individuals who fell in love despite the odds being against them. Israeli director Michele Ohayon uses a documentary style to tell the story of Jack (Jaap) Polak, and his wife of 60 years Ina Soep Polak, who met in Amsterdam before the war, when Jack was married to another woman. The pair are instantly attracted to each other despite their very different backgrounds - Jack comes from an average financial background, whereas Ina comes from a wealthy family (her father was in the diamond polishing industry). When WW II breaks out, the pair (together with Jack's wife) end up in the Westerbork transit camp and later get moved to Bergen-Belsen. Throughout their internment, Jack and Ina maintain contact, exchanging letters in secret at a time when paper and pencil were prized commodities (hence the title of the feature which was also a phrase written by Jack in one of his letters to Ina).

I viewed their story with sympathy mainly because Jack's marriage to his wife was already in trouble before he met Ina - his wife was a jealous woman yet treated him almost with indifference, and the contrast between Ina and Jack's first wife was rather startling. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present - the past is often portrayed through the use of old photographs and archival film footage, and in the present we see Jack (at 93, still quite alert with a knowing gleam in his eyes) and Ina still as in love as when they were younger. It was heartening to see Jack still active in Holocaust education, and to know that this couple weathered the most unimaginable horrors and yet were strengthened by their love for each other, makes this a truly moving account.
June 26, 2009
Interestingly presented reminisces of two concentration camp survirors. Modern day footage interspersed with historical footage and photographs. Well done.
March 25, 2009
This wasn't the best documentary I've ever seen, but it was definitely an interesting one. I've learned a lot about the Holocaust and have seen a lot of footage, but this film surprised me with some information that I had not known before.

For someone who doesn't know much at all about the Holocaust, it might be tough to sit through and appreciate.

It was hard hearing Jaap recount saving a portion of bread for an emergency and denying his sister and a close friend's sick son any of it. You could really feel his regret and even tell that he still struggles with the right and wrong of it all.
January 23, 2009
I know that I've never contemplated a love affair blossoming into a 60 year marriage while existing in concentration camps, so from that aspect it was quite interesting. Their letters to each other are amazing when you think about the circumstance in which they were written.
January 2, 2009
There are better depictions of romance during the holocaust out there. Viktor Frankl's writings of his wife was succinct and profound. Benigni's Life is Beautiful was emotionally touching.

This documentary was tough to sit through. It took me 6 months and almost 5 attempts to complete. Not everything about the holocaust is emotionally touching.
December 21, 2008
que belleza de documental
Super Reviewer
August 13, 2008
[font=Century Gothic]Boy, have Jaap Polak and Ina Soep got a story to tell their grandchildren(and great grandchildren) 60 years after they got married of how they fell in love in concentration camps during World War II. By showing how precious life is, "Steal a Pencil for Me," is a very touching and moving documentary about their experiences. [/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]The two had met in Amsterdam before the Nazis invaded, coming from different ends of the social spectrum in the Jewish community. Jaap was an accountant, unhappily married and ten years older than Ina who came from a wealthy family. All of which is important to remember when Jaap notes the poor were forcibly relocated to the camps before the rich were. Despite their differences, they both ended up in the same camps, Westerbork(which was originally built for German refugees) and Bergen-Belsen. Jaap makes a distinction between concentration and extermination camps which is the difference between Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz. Even though being in Bergen-Belsen gave them a chance for survival, it was still no picnic as food was scarce, while typhus was rampant.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]By having two people detailing what they had to endure to survive the Holocaust against huge odds, "Steal a Pencil for Me" excels in its recollection of the genocide(The scenes at Westerbork were shot by the camp commander to show off). And today, Jaap and Ina talk to people from Los Angeles to Holland about the Holocaust, so that it is never forgotten.[/font]
August 1, 2008
Great documentary of a Dutch Jewish couple that survived the Holocaust. The story is told by them and through their letters they wrote to each other while in the concentration camp. This was a true love story and also Ina and Jack are one of the most adorable couples I have ever seen.
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