Coming this week to DVD and Digital HD from director Mark Schmidt and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is a film based on a true story when “Walking with the Enemy.”
It is World War II when Elek Cohen (Jonas Armstrong), a young man who is aware that the Germans are moving into villages all around them. Going away to be part of a work crew, their treatment is nothing short of horrible.
When Elek walks away with his friend Miklos (Simon Dutton), they return to their village in Budapest only to discover none of their family can be found. They have disappeared and a new family has taken over the house.
They learn that the families may have been moved west but no one really knows for sure. Told they are in Yellow Star houses, Elek finds Hannah (Hannah Tointon) who tells them Jozsef (Simon Kunz) is there.
Told there is a place up in the mountains called Waldensee where they might be. It is hard to know. Needing Schutz-pass, they are told it is the only way to be safe. But, when Hannah is chased home by German soldiers, the unthinkable happens in a series of horrific events.
Regent Horthy (Ben Kingsley) of the town is under pressure by Col. Skorzeny (Burn Gorman), a man who doesn’t reason at all. Niklos Horthy (Shane Taylor) tries to back up his father but to no avail.
Elek is taken in by Miklos, Hanna’s Uncle who gives him a job delivering the precious Schutz-passes. Soon Col. Skorzeny announces that these passes will no longer be valid putting the Hungarian Jews in even more jeopardy.
When Elek has to rescue his friend from the Germans, they dig up a suit belonging to soldiers and make a daring rescue like nothing that has been seen before. When an armistice comes it doesn’t stop the Germans for attacking. Now Regent Horthy does what he must to protect Hungarian citizens but to no avail.
The Germans begin to tear the city apart and its Jewish citizens are rounded up. Elek decides the only way to help is by putting on the German uniform and using it to their advantage. Saving those he can he knows that Eichmann continues to deport more and more Jews. The Glass House were they are taken too is overflowing with those they have saved.
When the trains are cut off, Elek knows there has to be another way to get them out. Walking on the road are those who are holding Swiss passes and when a German convoy comes upon them, he knows not all can be saved. The Germans attack the Glass House and take everyone into custody but as they come under attack from the Russians, Elek is still in the German uniform.
He will never stop trying to save as many as he can.
Armstrong as Elek is devastated that his family was gone when he returns to the village. Watching all the Jews around him go through the same, his plan to save them by wearing the German uniform is as dangerous as one would imagine. Armstrong gives his character such sadness yet a strength that comes across so genuinely.
Kingsley as Horthy is a small role but important in that he wanted to protect all the citizens of his country. Trying to keep the Germans at bay for as long as possible, it was only a matter of time before even his attempts would fail. I enjoyed his performance as I always do.
Dutton as Miklos is of the same heart as Elek in his passion for saving as many lives as he can working with others who sacrifice everything – even their lives. Kunz as Jozsef does what he can and his sacrifice includes a beard.
Gorman as Col. Skorzeny is as vicious as he can be. Pushing his way past Regent Horthy, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks when putting Eichmann in charge of the Jewish population. Gorman has the perfect appearance of someone to be afraid of!
Tointon as Hannah is the one thing Elek has to keep him whole. She tries to stay strong for him, even at the cost of losing her own family. Tointon is a bright spot in the middle of darkness.
Other cast includes, William Hope as Carl Lutz, Flora Longhurst as Rachel, Simon Hepworth as President Szalasi, Andrew Brooke as Capt. Kovarcz, Charles De’Ath as Lt. Krieger, Mark Wells as Ferenc Jacobson, Mark Wingett as Sorenzi and Charles Hubbell as Adolf Eichmann.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.
“Walking with the Enemy” is a story that not only teaches history of a dark time but what human beings are capable of. Elek is just one of so very many who put their lives at risk to save anyone they could. That is what makes these story’s that come to screen so very powerful.
The film is inspired by the story of Pinchas Rosenbaum who dealt with the German occupation of Hungary and the towns and village of Budapest toward the end of World War II.
“Walking with the Enemy” is love, loyalty, family, community all rolled in to self-sacrifice and dignity to always do the right thing. That makes this film a teachable moment for us all.
In the end — a hero emerges!