The Holocaust should never be forgotten. Agnieszka Holland’s Oscar nominated drama is based on a true story. We are dropped into the horror, on the eve of the liquidation of the Lvov ghetto in Poland. Some enterprising prisoners have conceived of an escape plan to evade execution and concentration camp internment. They have managed to find an entry point into the city’s sewer network. During a reconnoitre, the leaders of the plan bump into two sewer inspectors, who moonlight as thieves breaking into vacant houses. Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz) is the senior partner. Nazis are paying for the handing over of Jews. In exchange for the inspectors’ silence, they will be paid. This encounter prima facie appears to be unfortunate for those looking to escape. The following day the ghetto is overrun with brutal killing. The escapees, led by Mundek Margulies (Benno Fürmann) and Ignacy Chiger (Herbert Knaup), reach Socha in time. The sewers are a maze, and they would’ve likely perished without his knowledge of the system.
The film is mostly set underground. One can only imagine the horrendous conditions. The claustrophobia and sense of peril is conveyed convincingly. The battle is for survival, to evade detection, and not go insane. A reaching out for human contact is the way the majority seem to manage the latter.
At first reticent to help, Socha marshals all his resources to come to the aid of those now dependent on him. One aspect of IN DARKNESS is a marking of courage and tenacity; and also showing how an ordinary person can make such a difference.