Escape from Sobibor (TV Movie 1987) Poster

(1987 TV Movie)

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lasting impression
paulvaughanthomas9 November 2004
It was interesting to read another viewer's comments about this film. I have seen Schindler's List and it didn't touch me anywhere near as deeply as Escape from Sobibor. I first watched it in my teens and it was this film, more than anything I'd seen previously about the Holocaust, which had the greatest impact. The story, of course, is based on truth and is full of painful, heart-wrenching scenes. Nothing has ever presented the Holocaust to me in a more vivid, more graphic, more powerful way.

It's amusing that some people can watch a film and it barely registers with them. Others can see the same film and have a completely different reaction to the experience. But that's people for you, the great variety that is the spice of life. For me, Escape from Sobibor was a very emotional experience and it had a major impact on me. But don't take anyone else's word for it. We all see things differently - go and see it yourself.
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edge of seat!!!
jeffandsarah-115 December 2004
I first got this out on video many years back. Being interested in the holocaust from a young age,and having traveled through Poland in the early eighties I got this out of interest.Amazing to think it was done for television and not cinema. I,was on the edge of my seat all the way through,could hardly breath all through the film,did not take my eyes off the screen.The ending is both shattering and uplifting.Even more so knowing the outcome of some of the lives. And how simply fitting a denouement on the end credits the result of the police investigation, give that policeman a medal. On the whole the acting is exceptional, and by that I mean one forgets the actor and sees only the person as real. In fact it has that real life documentary feel to the story. Most satisfying to have seen it before Rutger got semi-famous.
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Good television movie about the known breakout from horrible concentration camp
ma-cortes3 April 2006
This excellent TV movie deals with extermination center Sobibór and the subsequent escape led by great actors as Alan Arkin and Rutger Hauer . We see horrors , murders , massacres against the prisoners . Thus , when the incoming transports , mostly Jews , SS soldiers made instant decisions , those who were fit to labors were sent into the camp , others including the children , were dispatched immediately to the gas chambers where approximately one-quarter million Jews were executed . The movie gets a breathtaking and exciting getaway with a sensitive score by George Delerue . The film was well realized by Jack Gold developing compellingly the historical recreation of the escape from the Nazi Death Camp Sobibor .

The picture is based on real events , these are the followings : Sobibór , Chelmno , Belzec and Treblinka were four large death camps in the Lublin district of Poland transformed into extermination centers to implement the policy of genocide thought at the Wannsee Conference . Sobibór was an extermination camp of killing center of Jews including children and located near the Bug River on the border of the German occupied eastern territories . Some 35.000 Dutch Jews , originally assigned to Auschwitz were sent to Sobibór . All four camps were under the command of SS Odilo Globocnick . There was some minor industrial activity linked to the war effort but the main work was the execution of inmates . Victims were brought to the camp in unventilated transports , and all but a handful were gassed after arrival , the gas chambers could accommodate hundred prisoners at one time , most of their corpses were burned in open pits . On October 14, 1943 about 150 inmates broke out in a desperate riot . Of approximately 600 prisoners who attempted escaped in October 1943 , around 300 succeeded . However, nearly all were ultimately recaptured ; only about 60 people survived . Sobibor along with Treblinka and Belzec , was evacuated in the fall of 1943.
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Painful, yet strong
BatStarIndyFreak14 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this twice and both times it had a stronger emotional grip on me than did Schindler's list (all due credit). While Schindler's list gave you a dose mainly about just how the Jews were treated physically, Sobibor better tackled the psychological tension the Jews experienced.

*SPOILERS* I felt my inwards just pull apart as I had to see Jews taken from an escape attempt put in front of a firing squad only to be forced to pick a substitute or else the whole crowd would be killed off. Same with when I saw the mother's baby discovered in the sewing shop. The Nazi officer took the baby, thinking the mother should be grateful he is killing the baby and not her. She gets shot and killed and you hear the baby screaming until the next shot is fired, EXCRUCIATING! but it happened and we have to grasp that to understand just how evil this world can be. A true masterpiece at that!
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A fantastic movie that tells a true story of bravery and determination during World War II
stargirlrk10 May 2003
This movie is fantastic, no doubt about it. It takes place in the Sobibor death camp in Poland during World War II, where Jews are sent to be killed but where also there are over 600 Jews and Russian POWs working. It shows many of the hardships that Jews faced during this time and the brutality of the German SS officers. Alan Arkin is a Jew in working in the camp who is somewhat of a leader among the prisoners there, and with trains of people coming into the camp every day, a train carrying several Russian POWs comes (all Jewish, that is why they were sent there instead of a regular POW camp) and Rutger Hauer is the leader among them. Arkin and Hauer soon work together among other prisoners to devise a way to escape, originally planning an escape that involved only a dozen men but they eventually decided it had to be the entire camp population of 600, or else the 600 people left there would most likely be slaughtered. The film is full of suspense and based on a true story that happened at Sobibor, which was the biggest camp escape during the war. This movie is in some parts shocking when, like Schindler's List and other Holocaust films, it shows naked women and children being led into the gas chambers and a woman being executed simply for bringing her baby into the camp. This movie is a great film and I am surprised that it was only a made-for-TV movie, for it has the true qualities of a theater movie and it also has a great musical soundtrack. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments.
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One of the Best Movies of Jews Concentration Camp in the Second World War
claudio_carvalho7 February 2004
The uprising of the Jews in the death camp of Sobibor, with the escape of three hundred Jews, is brilliantly presented in this awesome movie. The excellent Alan Arkin performs Leon Feldhendler, a natural leader, organizing and motivating the prisoners. Rutger Hauer, in an excellent shape (in 1987), has also a marvelous performance as Alexander 'Sasha' Pechersky, a Russian POW. The gorgeous Joanna Pacula plays Luka, a very brave woman. The explanation of Leon to a new prisoner, why they should dance, play, laugh and make love after the execution of their families, is very touching and respectful. It is indeed an amazing lesson of survival. I have to confess that I am tired of corny movies like `The Pianist', which only shows disgrace and misery of some Jewish persons in the Second World War. We, viewers, are aware of the massacre of Jews in the WWII, but I note that this type of movie is becoming more brutal and explicit. Is it because the world society in 2004 can support watching such brutalities? Is it an adaptation of a historic fact to the violence of the present days? But `Escape From Sobibor' portraits Jews not only as passive victims going (or staying) in the slaughterhouse like a lambs, but also as a very brave people, fighting for survival. It does not mean that the brutality and sadism of certain SS officers is not shown, like the killing of the mother and her baby, or the shot of twenty-six defenseless prisoners, or the use of the whip by some German. But again, it is not explicitly shown as in some movies, with blood, pieces of brain etc., with the only intention of shocking the viewer more than necessary. All the cast has an outstanding performance. The direction is stunning: the scenes of the escape are very real. For example, when the desperate prisoners climbs the wire while escaping is very impressive. Just for reference, another excellent movie about this theme is Jon Avnet's `Uprising'. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil) `Fuga de Sobibor, O Campo do Inferno' (`Escape From Sobibor, the Hell Camp')
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Schindler's List SURPASSED!
edinger26 August 2000
This is one of the most terrifying accounts of the atrocities which took place during World War II. In terms of realism it far surpasses Schindler's List, to the extent that it's quite frankly hard to sit through. But the sheer realism is also what makes it such an important piece of filmmaking. Certainly, Escape from Sobibor has coursed some reflection on my part.

IMDb rating 10/10
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Saw it years ago & it stayed with me...
findor_tallwillow6 June 2005
I saw this movie when it first aired on TV. I was 16, and was beginning to realize that the world wasn't a very nice place.

This movie showed me just how nasty it could sometimes be.

After seeing this movie, I went out and bought the book that inspired the telefilm. Since then, I've re-read it several more times, finding the story more inspiring and more tragic with each read.

I'm older now, and despite seeing "Schindler's List", this movie is the one that I think about, when I think about the terrible waste that WW2 was. And how awful we can be people who bleed the same colour the rest of us bleed.
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Moving to the extreme
igsm016 June 2014
Without doubt the most emotionally moving film I have ever seen.

The atmosphere created cuts through the fact that it is a movie and puts any normal person actually there.

Absolutely the most accurate portrayal of the lowest point of human behaviour ever.

It still beggars belief that a so-called civilised nation could embark on the systematic annihilation of people purely based on their religion.

God forbid this should ever happen again

I cried several times and I am not an emotional man.
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The perfect picture of a death camp...
daria8425 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
If you are interested in knowing more about WWII or thought movies such as "Schindler's list" were good, you will like this one.

It;s about a death camp, Sobibor, where Jews are taken and later exterminated, and a group of Jews and a Russian officer plan to escape and succeed. Of course not all made it, many died in the process, but in the end a lot of people got their freedom.

This movie is surprisingly good, the cast and acting is good indeed, and the plot is very believable. This movie is the perfect picture of a death camp, all the horrors people suffered there, the fear and their struggle to defeat dead every single day; and all the cruelty shown by the SS soldiers, who were murders in cold blood of innocent people.

Anyways if you are looking for a movie about death camps or related to the Holocaust, you will find this one quite interesting indeed. ****1/2 out of *****
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Exciting is the word...
kimnil8023 December 2002
..for this somehow little known WW2 movie.If you liked "The Great Escape" or "Schindler`s List" for ex.,you`ll love this movie.It`s just as realistic and well played as those two.Production is high and the setting is very...yes,realistic.There are several gruesome execution scenes in this movie and it will make you hate the Nazis to the bone.What sick people!! I almost covered my eyes several times,but a movie like this is very important information of what happened in the death camps. Arkin,Hauer and Joanne Pacula are all great in this terrific WW2 escape movie.If this movie had been an theatrical release and not a TV miniseries,it would have won several Oscars,no doubt.Watch it!(if you can find it).

Rating 9/10
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better than Schiendler's List
allie_mommy121 October 2004
I saw this movie about 13 years ago in school. It still sticks in my Mind. I think this is the best holicaust movie I have ever seen. I can remember a lot of the movie but I can't remember any of schiendler's List. It really made me think about the hardships and pain that those people went through. How young children either lost their families or lost their lives. One part of the movie I remember vividly is when a child got scared and ran away from the other people. and how a guard let the dog loose and it attacked and killed that poor child. I also remember how one man told a woman to say she had some kind of skill. Which she did and that saved her life.Lets not forget the many lives that were taken in those times. The young and the old. Its a very said part of history but the ones who were killed and the ones who survived should never be forgotten.
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not entirely historically accurate
AndrewWalker74721 March 2002
This movie did a good job of showing what happened and how prisioners coped with life in a nazi death camp. The acting was good and you really get a good depiction of death camp life. However, I would not say that this was better than the masterpiece that SCHINDLERS LIST was.

Oh by the way, this movie didnt show what happened after the prisioners escaped. Everyone left behind at the death camp was executed the next day, some being buried alive because the nazis were in a rush to shut the camp down. The area was then simply planted over with trees so today when people walk on the grounds where Sobibor was, many feet underneath them is the remains of thousands of people.....
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An important historical document
selektadan_i4 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film affected me like no film ever has ever done, or is likely to do in the future. It is not a glitzy Hollywood production and is all the more effective as a result. I have seen accounts in print and on the internet detailing the true events at Sobibor and this film is a factual account with very few details changed. Sobibor was a stinking hell-hole and this comes across very well in the film.This film should be compulsory viewing in all schools to warn against the evils of racism. When the prisoners finally get the upper hand and start killing the Nazi SS pigs I found myself cheering at the top of my voice. I first saw this film in the 80's on October the 14th the day the breakout occurred, which also happens to be my birthday and maybe because of that I feel very involved with the story, also because my family is partly Jewish. I have seen it many times since and it never loses it's impact.
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Stunning & Moving Holcaust Drama
kester_gillard13 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw this on TV when it was first made & was swept away by it. I have seen it several times since & now own it on DVD. I consider it one of the finest Holocaust dramas ever made. I found it deeply moving-especially the escape sequence. The characters-based on real people-draw you in & you emphasise completely with them. It is ultimately a film that show that people can keep their humanity & that some Jews were able to fight back & win. The ending of the film is triumphant, as you cheer those who do make it.I lent this to a friend very recently who hadn't seen it, & it reduced him to tears, as it has already done me. The acting is superb throughout & makes the characters painfully real & this really matters so much in several deeply upsetting sequences-the first train arrivals from which only a few people survive, the shooting of the selected male inmates, the death of the mother who tried to protect her baby, & the escape where only a few of the characters survive. This film humanised the Holocaust for me, made me think of the real people who suffered, far more than a documentary ever could. Although I admire Schindler's List, this film is far more moving & realistic.
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Victorious Escape
habibi9912 October 2006
Only watched this film for the first time recently and although I cannot agree with the 'can't believe it was a telemovie' statements, I really enjoyed it. In terms of realism it comes well down the list of Holocaust films. The English accents, for one, give it away. The acting is great, particularly Alan Arkin and Rutger Hauer. In terms of a realistic account of the story, it would have to be close to the facts, mainly due to the amount of survivors. What I really got out of it was the feeling of the oppressed ending up victorious. Almost all Holocaust films leave us with a feeling of hope at most. Hope that nothing like this ever happens again. The facts of the matter, rightly so, dictate what the portrayal, for the majority of Jewish prisoners, was like in terms of outcome. This film really left me with a feeling of victory, not just a moral one, as the oppressed rose up and struck down their persecutors. This presented all the prisoners with a chance of survival and condemned the camp nonoperational.
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A powerful film... if a little overlong, and possessing some of the typical flaws of a made-for-TV production
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews5 October 2006
The first time I watched this, I found myself having trouble watching it all the way through. I didn't turn it off, but rather kept it on and simply only granted it half my attention. This time, I decided to watch the whole thing. No matter how difficult. This is a tough film to watch... partly due to the subject matter, but, I'm sorry to say, also partly due to quality and production issues. As far as I know, this provides a very accurate account of the escape attempt which took place at Sobibor, and the events leading up to it. The plot is quite well-written, and evolves nicely. The pace is fairly good, though it seems to drag during some parts of the film... too much time is spent showing the same kinds of things, and on separate scenes(meanwhile, other scenes are perfectly paced). Some might argue that this was a deliberate choice, to give the viewer a sense of the tedium of being held in a death camp... but as the very same (poor) pacing is seen in countless other TV feature productions, I suspect that it's simply a result of that. I think the very best thing that could happen to this film is that it be re-cut. Trim scenes that go on for too long, maybe cut out characters that don't really do anything in the film, anyhow. Dramaturgically speaking, the film runs for too long compared to how little goes on. Scene after scene of random cruelty towards prisoners, that would have served their purpose better put to music and edited into a montage, instead of countless, overlong scenes that bring the plot no further, and does little or nothing to develop the characters. The acting varies, but some performances are very good. The cinematography, and for the most part also editing are also evident of a low budget. Some of the production values are rather good; the camp looks exactly like it should, as do costumes, tools and weapons. Parts are well-directed; the attempt itself is nail-bitingly intense, and the cruel nature of the death camps is exposed, neither being underplayed nor exaggerated. Striking a blow for accuracy and rich detail, two people who were actually in the camp were taken on as supervising technical consultants, and since both had written material about the camp(one as a book, the other an unpublished manuscript), that was used to develop the script. This contains some very strong scenes, and should not be seen by anyone too young to comprehend the horror of the Holocaust. Worth watching for anyone who appreciates human will-power and how far some are willing to go to be free(just be prepared for a TV-film, if a good one). Also, any fan of action will enjoy the last few scenes. 7/10
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lets fix our mistake!
Princess227199319 December 2005
I saw this movie in class I am in 7th grade. This movie was good but it was horrible to see all the people die and murdered like that! It makes me think what were the people thinking when they did all that stuff. They were horrible people! They were MURDERERS. They can't let people get away with that.And the sad thing is that It is STILL happening today if Africa and all over the world! That is MURDERING!!! I say that Mr.Bush should do something about it! We did NOT do anything about it during World War II so Let fix that Mistake and Do something about it now!I give this movie an A++++++++++++++++++++++++++. Great movie you should watch it! It is very strong and has deep meaning!
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Not a good movie, but important nonetheless
aditc30 January 2017
I honestly think that this could have been done much better. The acting was bad in general. Some of the actors chose to portray no emotion, while others played it so over the top that they were unbelievable. The only parts that was really interesting were the interpersonal sections, which were still only about as good as a soap opera. The violence was very TV appropriate, meaning that it was low budget stuff that mostly occurred off screen. The angles were clearly meant to not show the actual violence. The worst they show were the whippings, where all people had their shirts still on, that way the makeup team wouldn't have to make scars. Still, the idea is important. I just wish a lot more time, effort, and production value had gone into this.
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A well done TV-movie
Artdoag226 November 2006
I first watched this movie several years ago cuz it had Rutger Hauer in it, and I had liked his performance in Blade Runner. I had also taken a liking to Schindler's List, and I was aiming to explore similar movies dealing with the WW2 death camps (and there's only a handful of them out there).

There are some scenes that could have used some polishing up, or seem to have been prepared too hastily. I am under the impression that not enough time was given to developing the Nazi camp staff; we know that they're evil, but a bit more attention to their personalities and specific roles in the camp wouldn't have hurt. I would have like to have seen more focus on Sasha's (Hauer's character) fellow captive soldiers and their involvement in the escape preparation.

Escape from Sobibor certainly "shows" itself as a 1980s made-for-TV production, in terms of filming techniques and a lower-budget kind of feel. Nevertheless, the interaction between Hauer and Alan Arkin (the civilian leader of the escape) is solid, and the supporting characters (especially the guy who looks a lot like Fred Ward) come across as very likable. The death camp looks eerily authentic and resembles images I have seen in history books and documentaries. The concerns of life and death voiced by the Jews truly hits home, and the final 15 minutes of the escape are emotionally striking. The narration which describes the fates of some of the key survivors of the ordeal perfectly brings the movie to a close.

I give Escape from Sobibor a 7 because of its honest and poignant subject matter. If you haven't seen it, definitely give it a look.
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One of the best WW2 films yet
helpless_dancer24 April 2000
Tense drama about a large prisoner revolt at a death camp in Poland. Great acting and a very realistic looking set coupled with a daring escape scene at the end gives the viewer over 2 hours of edge of the chair excitement and nail biting suspense. Don't miss this one.
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A gripping Death Camp story.
RatedVforVinny18 January 2019
A highly emotional movie, concerning the real life escape from the Nazi Death camp 'Sobibor'. Surely one of the very best of its type and Alan Arkin (with his trademark haunted look), is such a perfect choice for the leading role. The sensitive material is handled with both honesty and respect but more importantly contains accurate details of the actual breakout. Usually i'm able to pick out so many inaccuracies in pictures but i can't really fault here.
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One of the most disturbing films ever made - that must be watched by everyone!
AGood21 July 2018
This movie pulls no punches, it goes right for the gut and keeps on hitting. How people actually survived in this hell on earth astounds me as I know I couldn't have managed it.

Whatever praise I put on this film during this review I do not think will even do it justice. It is simply a must see film. This is a film that should be seen in schools as part of the History corriculum. This is a film that everyone should see in their lifetime so nothing like this could ever happen again.

It is films like Escape From Sobibor that justify the whole film media existing. It is truly essential viewing. And it truly is that good and powerful a movie.
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A too rare story, never forget it
bkoganbing6 January 2017
The saddest part of Escape From Sobibor is the uniqueness of the story. Sadly enough there were no mass revolts in the concentration camps, people just accepted the cursed fate that brought them to places like Sobibor.

Probably a combination of charismatic leadership and just one too many straws that broke backs led to what happened. In Sobibor in East Poland the main leader is played in this film by Alan Arkin in maybe one of the best roles of his career. Who also turned out to be a valuable asset was Rutger Hauer and a group of Russian prisoners housed there who with a bit of military discipline were invaluable as this story is told.

The two saddest scenes are what happened to Joanna Pacula's baby whom she was trying to hide. And young Jason Norman when he sees the gas chambers in operation and knows where his family wound up.

Escape From Sobibor is definitely not for the squeamish. But films like this should be made and remade and never forgotten.
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A rousing history lesson that can be watched for free.
MartinHafer21 July 2015
Back in 1987, this excellent British-made film aired on American television. Fortunately, if you want to see it, you can now download it absolutely free from I strongly recommend you do.

This film is the true story of a death camp called Sobibor and the inmates who eventually mounted the largest escape during WWII. Of the 600 prisoners, over 300 escaped and many of these folks managed to survive the war. This is awfully astounding and a nice contrast to all the depressing holocaust films, as in this case they fight back--killing many of their SS tormentors in the process of escaping.

The film deserves very high marks in just about every way. The acting is superb, the script tense and rousing and the story sticks close to the facts--something not all historical films do. Well worth seeing and, not surprisingly, sad and tragic at times, so have some Kleenex handy and don't let young kids watch this alone.
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