As the Polish Jews start to flee their homes in fear of persecution and being thrown into the ghetto, doctor Artur Planck (Joseph Fiennes), his wife Clara (Neve McIntosh/ Clare Higgin) and their children leave as they hear gunshots and head to the rural farm of Emilia (Kelly Harrison/Maria Pakulnis) who has long been waiting for her husband to return. But it seems that Emilia has long carried a torch for Artur and in order to survive Clara must hide out in the loft whilst Artur helps run the farm, forcing him to become involved with Emilia in order for them all to survive. 30 years later Clara returns back home to perform in a concert and finds herself going over the old territory including the farm.
How do you judge a movie whose subject matter is the holocaust; as entertainment seems wrong, as purely informative also seems wrong? There has to be some middle ground where a movie for me must inform but also draw you in to the story being told not so much as in entertaining but involving you. That brings me to "Spring 1941", a holocaust movie adapted from the works of Ida Fink and whilst it is informative in bringing the bleakness of the holocaust to life doesn't quite work as an involving drama. Part of the issue for why it struggles as an involving drama is that it tells to story, one in 1941 and one in 1971 causing it to be disjointed which is a shame.
But what "Spring 1941" achieves is to show the complexity of war for those caught up in the Holocaust. We have this drama which sees Artur having to go along with Emilia's feelings in order to survive whilst Clara accepting this because of it being a matter of survival. But we also see other tough decisions and we see how as they went to flee the city Artur had to abandon one of his children who had been shot in order to save the rest of the family. Basically "Spring 1941" is a movie of tough choices during the war.
In truth "Spring 1941" is a bit of a rollercoaster as this look at the tough choices is good but the direction is ordinary and the use of a never truly stationary camera is a poor decision as it's constant swaying has the knock on effect of causing sea sickness. Then there is the acting which is solid but not memorable with these characters being surprisingly forgettable once the movie is over.
What this all boils down to is that "Spring 1941" does a good job of highlighting the tough choices those fleeing the Holocaust had to make to survive during the war. But as a movie it doesn't fully work and often struggles to keep your complete attention due to various reasons from the camera work to the flicking between 1941 and 1971.