Steal A Pencil For Me
Love is never really
thought to have bloomed in the Holocaust.
With the horrible
conditions, the desperation for survival, the starvation and the constant
struggle, there is no time for music, candles and romance.
Ohayon has actually tracked down an even-more-than-usually unlikely story of
two hearts meeting in the midst of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
As Jaap (Jack) Polak says
early on in this touching examination of romance blooming in the background
of death, "I am a very special Holocaust survivor. I was in a camp
with my wife and my girlfriend. Believe me, it was not easy."
Jack was living in Holland
and unhappily married
to Manja when World War II broke out. He had also recently met Ina Soep and became infatuated with her.
Thus begins one of the most
against-the-odds relationships you will come across.
His marriage was on the
ropes anyway -- supposedly Manja was dating around and the married couple
had become more friend than lovers. When Jack saw Ina at a party he was
smitten. She, too, was taken.
There was no chance to act
on the attraction, though. Soon World War II exploded into their lives, sending all
three to a series of concentration camps.
While surviving all the hardships
and death of the concentration camps, they recount the story of senseless
horror as well as a charmingly courtly birth of a relationship -- one which
was basically completely experienced and created through long walks and love
letters. The movie's title comes
from one of Jaap's letters to Ina, when she was working in the concentration
camp, he asks her to
get him some pencils so that he can write to her more often.
Jack's ex-wife supposedly
remained friendly with the couple throughout the years, though her death in
the years just preceding the filming of this documentary unfortunately does
leave a huge hole in the story. The audience hears so much -- both good and bad --
about Manja's actions, but it all seems rather one-sided. We really want
to hear her take on things, which I am willing to bet would not be exactly
in line with the couple's.
The movie, though sweet and
horrifying at all the same time, does have a bit of a tendency to pull at
the heartstrings. Still, it is an interesting, worthy story.
Ina and Jack are a
charming couple who obviously still love each other after all these years. Their story is a
nice show of the power of love to bloom even in the most bitter soil.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: October 21, 2007.