|Directed by:||Stingl Pavel||Rating:||TV-G|
|Release Date:||2000||Running Time:||50 mins.|
|Language:||Czech with English subtitles||Genre:||Drama|
|More Info:||Wikipedia||Category:||Feature Film|
It’s estimated that one and a half million children were murdered in the Holocaust. A Story About A Bad Dream is an account of the Holocaust told from the perspective of a little girl, who makes sense of the world from her parents’ expressions and her own feelings of discomfort and unhappiness.
“Suddenly I was like a grown up,” the little narrator confides, describing her arrival at the deportation camp, “I had to take care of myself.” Honest and unabashed, Evie, the little girl, offers a unique and highly personal look at the brutality played out during the Second World War.
A Story About A Bad Dream brings to life the diary of Eva Erbenova, who was only thirteen years old when the Holocaust began. The unique Czechoslovakian, semi-documentary film was made with the intentions of preserving Eva’s personal history for her children and grandchildren. While the film has an artistic appeal for adults, it maintains a tone that’s gentle enough for a slightly younger audience. Historic footage of the Nazis, drawings made by Jewish artists from inside the deportation camp, children’s drawings of concentration camps that move and develop on screen, colorful reenacted scenes of her rescue, and Eva’s family photographs are complied to tell the story of a scared little girl who survived the Holocaust but lost both her parents for reasons she could not fully understand.
Once an adult, it’s easy to forget what the world looked like when everything was unfamiliar and big. A Story About A Bad Dream reminds viewer of how intimidating and confusing the world is when other people make your decision for you, and you can only comprehend so much of what’s going on around you.
Evie, like most children, believes her parents control the universe, so she’s terrified and shocked when she sees them powerless to Nazi orders. When the family is told of their forced relocation to Theresienstadt, Evie catches the nuances in her parent’s expressions and behavior. “I’ve never seen my parents look so serious,” she confides. Who can protect her, if her parents can’t? Who is in control if her parents aren’t?
When they leave for the deportation camp in Czechoslovakia, any hope for Evie’s peaceful and innocent existence is smashed. Disease, squalor and death ran rampant, but the deportation camp was a brighter alternative to the death camps that they were later sent to. There her father was separated from her and her mother, and hunger left little Evie looking like a skeleton. When all hope seems to be lost, Evie miraculously escaped and was rescued.
The style of the film is consistently childish. Drawing directly from what’s written in the diary, the narrator’s vocabulary is immature to be affected by political correctness, cliché, and prejudice. While the narrator’s speech might be limited, the tone is unavoidably honest. Later, when she’s riding up to the home of the modest German farming family that rescues her, she says, “I felt like a princess approaching her castle.”
Although the film uses bold colors and exaggerated acting, that appeal to a young audience, A Story About A Bad Dream is not entirely appropriate for young children because it can’t unfold into a happy ending. The loss and sorrow Evie experienced is too great to be forgotten. She survived the war and is rescued by kindness, but her bright future cannot trump the horrors she’s experienced. Evie was robbed of her childhood and her happy ending.