The Holocaust on Film

Son of Saul
Son of Saul

This film list represents the experiences of oppressed people during the Holocaust. This list includes dramatisations of historical events, documentaries that expose the harsh realities of the camps and feature the testimony of those that were there, and films that deal with attempts to move on from the traumas of the past to achieve reconciliation. No film, or even collection of films can possibly come close to giving us a comprehensive understanding of the horrors that took place during this period, but we can at least garner a level of empathy through the testimonies of those involved, and the willingness of artists to interrogate exactly what happened from as many different perspectives as possible. 

Life is Beautiful

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration116 mins

Life is Beautiful(1997)

Tragic-comic story about a life-loving Italian Jew who is taken with his son to a Nazi concentration camp, and tries to shield him from the horrors.

Life Is Beautiful captured the hearts of audiences around the world on its release. Its Chaplin-esque fable of a man and his son imprisoned in a concentration camp, with the man trying to shield the child from the unimaginable horror unfolding around them is profoundly moving, proving that humanity can be found in the most unspeakable of locations.

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Schindler's List

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration187 mins

Schindler's List(1993)

Powerful drama based on true events about a powerful German businessman who helped Jews being persecuted by the Nazis in World War Two.

Spielberg’s unforgettable drama brought more cinema audiences to stories around the Holocaust than any film before it. Unforgettably filmed in a sombre black-and-white (with one notable exception), the film is an harrowing examination of the horrors of Auschwitz and the banality of evil, but told with restraint and dignity.

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The Diary of Anne Frank

CertU

Age group7+

Duration180 mins

The Diary of Anne Frank(1959)

Moving adaptation of Anne Frank's world-changing diary, as Anne and her family must hide from the Nazis in occupied Amsterdam.

Anne Frank’s story needs little introduction and is one of the best known stories to emerge from the horrors of the Holocaust. Although Anne's tale is often distressing for audiences, it's a hugely important story of a normal girl forced to face the grim realities of war and racial hatred - but never allowing herself to lose her sense of optimism.

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Au Revoir Les Enfants

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration104 mins

Au Revoir Les Enfants(1987)

Malle's true story is a moving and utterly heart-rending tale of friendship and the loss of innocence in a boarding school in Nazi-occupied France.

This remarkable, frequently beautiful autobiographical film tells the story of director Louis Malle’s experiences attending a Catholic boarding school in France, where one day he witnessed a Gestapo raid in which pupils and colleagues were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz, and his headmaster arrested for harbouring them.

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Son of Saul

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration107 mins

Son of Saul(2015)

In 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds a body which he believes to be his son.

This urgent, hyper-realistic film captures the horrific atmosphere of the camps as a Sonderkommando makes a discovery among the dead which forces him to break away from his grim duties, and threatens to compromise his fellow prisoners.

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Night And Fog

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration31 mins

Night And Fog(1955)

Documentary about the German concentration camps of World War II, with commentary written by a survivor of the camps.

Made ten years after the liberation of the camps, this film takes the viewer on a journey through the ruins. Using words from a survivor and music that contrasts with the harsh visuals, this film expresses the difficulty of reflecting on and processing the scale of the horror.

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Paper Clips

CertU

Age group11–16

Duration84 mins

Paper Clips(2004)

Moving documentary about some American school students who set about collecting six million paper clips in memory of the Holocaust victims.

This documentary reveals the effect of learning about the Holocaust on a group of students from a school in a small isolated town. Through the project the children not only begin to comprehend the scale of the Holocaust, but also expand their understanding of the wider world and why respect for difference is so important.

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Everything Is Illuminated

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration101 mins

Everything Is Illuminated(2005)

Quirky and touching tale about an eccentric Jewish writer who goes to Ukraine to research his family history.

Road movie in which Jonathan, a Jewish American, is led towards a painful period in his family's history by two eccentric Ukrainian tour guides who specialise in reuniting the descendants of European Jews with their roots. Moving and comic in equal measure, this film deals sensitively with the difficult subject of making peace with the past.

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Night Will Fall

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration75 mins

Night Will Fall(2014)

Harrowing holocaust documentary constructed from material shot at the time, but never before released.

This documentary reveals the story behind German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, a film commissioned by the British government to expose the full scale of the horrors committed during the war, but never released. Featuring footage from the original film, as well as contemporary interviews with survivors, this film is an important historical document.

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Wakolda (The German Doctor)

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration90 mins

Wakolda (The German Doctor)(2013)

A gripping drama set in Patagonia about a little girl who befriends a visiting German doctor with a dark secret.

Set in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, this film follows an escaped Nazi war criminal who is trying to begin a new life anonymously, and also reveals the elaborate mission in place to try and capture and bring him to justice.

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Ida

Cert12

Age group14+

Duration79 mins

Ida(2013)

Beautifully shot, absorbing drama about a young woman on a journey to find out who she really is.

This film reveals the post-war conditions in Poland, where the events of the Holocaust cast a long shadow and the new regime kept people in conditions of austerity. When an orphaned young Catholic novice discovers that she was born into a different religion and that her parents perished during the Holocaust, her faith and sense of identity are thrown into confusion.

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Denial

Cert12A

Age group14+

Duration110 mins

Denial(2016)

The true story of an American academic tasked with proving in court that the holocaust happened, after she is sued for libel by a British historian.

How do you debate somebody who claims the Holocaust never took place? Should you even try to do so? That’s the intriguing debate at the heart of this engrossing court room drama, based on the true story of an academic taken to court by David Irving, in an engrossing film that raises discussion around ethics and freedom of speech.

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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration90 mins

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas(2008)

Bruno is kept in the dark by his Nazi commandant father about the neighbouring concentration camp, until he strikes up a friendship through the wire.

This moving, educational and necessarily upsetting drama tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of two young boys - one the son of a Nazi, the other a Jewish child imprisoned in a concentration camp.

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The Counterfeiters

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration94 mins

The Counterfeiters(2007)

Harrowing account of the Jewish concentration camp prisoners forced to counterfeit money for the Nazis, and the horrors of the inmates around them.

This Academy Award winning drama tells of the secret plan by Nazi Germany to flood the British economy with counterfeit money in order to destabilize the economy. The film focuses on a Jewish counterfeiter, coerced into assisting the operation whilst imprisoned in a concentration camp.

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The Book Thief

Cert12

Age group11–16

Duration126 mins

The Book Thief(2013)

The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, an extraordinary and courageous young girl sent to live with a foster family in World War Two Germany.

A young girl’s passion for books helps her and the people she loves find a respite from the horrors of Nazi Germany in this adaptation of the bestselling novel. Using the character of Death as a voiceover, the film uses the innocence of a child to tell a heart-warming yet chilling tale.

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The Zookeeper's Wife

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration127 mins

The Zookeeper's Wife(2017)

When Poland is invaded by the Nazis, the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo embark on a dangerous mission to provide sanctuary for persecuted Jews.

Based on an inspiring true story, this entertaining and accessible drama tells the story of the keepers of a Warsaw Zoo who used it as a hiding place for threatened Jews after it was partially destroyed by invading Nazi troops.

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