Uprising (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Uprising is an accurate-as-possible representation of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. The Germans had herded something like a half a million Jews into a dedicated section of Warsaw. As time went on, the Germans started herding all of the Jews on trains headed for Treblinka. When the Jews became fully aware of where the trains were headed, they realized that they were all earmarked for certain death. Given that fact, they decided to take out a bunch of Nazis and German soldiers with them, instead of walking meekly onto the train cars. They organized the strongest resistance they could muster, and they performed brilliantly under impossible conditions. Before the Germans could destroy all the buildings in the Ghetto, the resistance fighters held out for many months (longer than the entire Polish army held out after the German violation of their borders).

Director Jon Avnet did a tremendous job on this project, rebuilding several blocks of the Ghetto from period drawings and photographs, and recreating the strategies of the underground by using the memories of the surviving members to supplement the existing documentation. When the elderly survivors were led onto the set for the first time, they were moved to speechless tears by the site of 1943 Warsaw brought back to existence exactly as it was, shop names and graffiti and all. 

Avnet was smart enough to let the details of the story reveal themselves in the actual dialogue, without much in the way of speeches or comments from characters or narrators. He also increased the emotional impact of the scenes by treating the situations matter-of-factly. The drama plays out with stirring resonance, with many beautiful small touches which were probably inspired by the recollections of the participants. An old man uses his newspaper to cover up a naked female body in the streets, but the wind blows the newspaper away. Children march to the trains, singing as they walk, unaware of the dread they should be feeling, just off on an adventure like children boarding the train at Disney World.


a lot of nudity for a TV movie:
  • a naked female body in the street - including some pubic area
  • there was a non-nude nude scene with Leelee Sobieski.
  • many people of both sexes were forced to strip by the Germans. Only buttocks were seen.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length director commentary

  • full-length cast commentary

  • second disk with two documentaries, one historical and one on making the film

Two other factors made the film more interesting:

  • The film also touched upon the internal politics of the German officers who were assigned to quell the uprising and execute the leaders. Many of the German command lost face over the incident.
  • The German filmmaker/propagandist, creator of the infamous propaganda film The Eternal Jew, who happened to be on hand to capture much of the uprising with his camera crew. 

Jon Voight was in this as a German general, further adding to his newly emerging credentials as the supreme elderly character actor and impersonator. (Recently he has also been Franklin Roosevelt and Howard Cosell)

It's long, and it's basically a historical docudrama, but it's a very good one which tried to tie down the details of the period, and to capture the spirit of the resistance fighters.

The Critics Vote

  • none

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.8 
  • made for network TV
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. One of the best TV movies that I've ever seen. Too long and detailed to appeal to those who must have entertainment with their education, but a pleasure for those who are interested in what happened then, and why.

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