In the 2019 adaptation The Painted Bird, based on the controversial Holocaust memoir by Jerzy Kosinky, the sanctity of life and innocence holds little to no value. To summarize, The Painted Bird is a grueling freefall into the abyss, with a child protagonist navigating an unnamed, hostile country and encountering different degrees of evil: moral, apathetic, or conscripted. Vàclav Marhoul’s near-mythical recreation of Kosinky’s haunting source material might be the most harrowing movie you’ve ever seen. A fairytale without the possibility of a ‘free-lunch’ otherworld or a reward for the suffering endured. But to accuse the film of only resorting to knee-jerk shock tactics does it a disservice. It is unapologetically singular in style and execution and while it does share storytelling tropes with Schindler’s List, Bent, and The Pianist, it examines the atrocities of war from a different angle.
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Author: Alan Kelly