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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Windermere Children'
(Thomas Kretschmann, Romola Garai, Iain Glen, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Based on an extraordinary, untold true story of hope, this moving and ultimately redemptive story follows child survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and the remarkable team who were responsible for helping these children rebuild their lives as they forge friendships that will become a lifeline to a better future.

DVD Verdict: August, 1945. A coachload of children arrives at the Calgarth Estate by Lake Windermere. They are child survivors of the Nazi Holocaust that has devastated Europe's Jewish population.

Carrying only the clothes they wear and a few meagre possessions, they bear the emotional and physical scars of all they have suffered.

Charged with looking after them is Oscar Friedmann, a German-born child psychologist. He and his team of counsellors have just 4 months to help the children reclaim their lives. This is the stark, moving and ultimately redemptive story of the bonds the children make with one another, and of how the friendships forged at Windermere become a lifeline to a fruitful future. In the absence of relatives, they find family in each other.

In truth, as I'm sure we all now know down through the ages, man's capacity for cruelty and kindness at times is tough to reconcile.

I am fairly well versed on WWII history, but I had never heard of Windermere before. While the movie does due diligence on the children, about half the movie focuses on the staff.

And, my goodness, what an extraordinary display of dignity and compassion they portray too. The people of the UK as well, though done by proxy, they provided 4 months to give strangers a chance at a time their own chances were somewhat less than assured.

A great cast give us a snapshot of the children and staff of a camp set up on the Calgarth Estate in Troutbeck Bridge, near Lake Windermere, England.

Establishing a sense of safety was the goal but I did not like the burning of their clothes scene - showed a lack of understanding of their needs and experiences.

Teaching them English, re-creating a sense of connection and 'family' and consolidating their strengths led to many of them integrating beautifully into British Society with knighthoods, MBEs and Olympians among them.

The film portrays the unique characters and gifts of each. Indeed, a rather wonderous treasure was footage of the real people as Seniors at Lake Windermere.

Solid production value and journeyman performances propel the story at near light speed, the 88 minutes goes by fast, but gently carries an important message that is too easy to forget: There but by the grace of God go I. Be good to one another. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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