Divided We Fall (film)

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Divided We Fall
Divided We Fall.JPG
Directed by Jan Hřebejk
Produced by Pavel Borovan
Ondřej Trojan
Written by Jan Hřebejk
Petr Jarchovský
Starring Bolek Polívka
Anna Šišková
Csongor Kassai
Music by Ales Brezina
Cinematography Jan Malír
Edited by Vladimír Barák
Release date(s) Czech Republic:
16 March 2000
United States:
8 June 2001
United Kingdom:
31 May 2002
Running time 123 min.
Country Czech Republic
Language Czech
Box office $1,830,938 (worldwide)[1]

Divided We Fall (Czech: Musíme si pomáhat literally translated as We Must Help Each Other) is a 2000 Czech film directed by Jan Hřebejk. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.


The film opens in 1939 Czechoslovakia. Horst, a Czech-German Nazi collaborator married to a German woman, brings food to the invalid Josef and his wife Marie, who are Slavs. Josef hates the Nazis. When Josef finds David, who has escaped a concentration camp in occupied Poland after first being sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in northern Bohemia, Josef and Marie decide to hide him in their apartment. Horst makes an unannounced visit, bringing presents as usual. Marie is ambivalent about their secret: On one hand she never misses an opportunity to blame her husband for bringing in the Jew, but on the other she is merciful and sympathetic with the poor kid locked in the closet day and night. She suggests that Josef accepts Horst's job offer evicting Czech Jews from their homes, so as to get more protection and deflect possible suspicions. Josef accepts and is considered a collaborator by the neighbor Franta (who had tried to give David over to the Nazi authorities, when he first escaped from a concentration camp). Marie spends the days learning French from David and getting more and more tender toward him, as if she has finally found a baby to nurse and protect. Horst's visits become more frequent, and one evening a farce takes place.

Josef gets his fertility tested: He can't have children. Humiliated, Horst takes revenge on Marie by forcing them to provide lodging for their supervisor, a committed Nazi bureaucrat, who had suffered a stroke after Nazis kill his son for deserting the army. Marie refuses to accept him on the grounds that she is pregnant. But now she has to get pregnant, and Josef proposes that David do it. After much resistance from Marie, she and David have sex. She does get pregnant, and Horst is forced to apologize to her. As the Germans are beginning to lose, Horst becomes more human. He saves their lives when the Germans search the street house by house. Finally, the Germans are defeated and the Czech people take brutal revenge on them. Right then Marie goes into labor. Josef runs outside looking for a doctor, but everywhere is chaos.

He finally finds the new ruling troika which includes his old neighbor Franta as the representative of the Czech Resistance. But Franta remembers him as a collaborator and orders his arrest. Josef protests his innocence and invites them to check his house where he risked his life to protect a Jew. They allow him to pick his doctor. In the jails, Josef finds that the Nazi doctor that he was looking for has taken cyanide but also finds Horst, crouched in a corner. Josef risks his life once more to save the collaborator who saved his life: Josef tells the partisans that Horst is a doctor. The partisans escort them to Josef's house, driving through the ruins of the city. In another slapstick-style scene, Horst pretends to be a doctor and helps Marie, who is terrified to see Horst acting as the doctor. Now Josef needs to produce the Jew, because the new "revolutionaries" want to kill him for collaboration, but David, scared by the armed men, has run out. The captain of the "revolutionaries" a member of the external Czech forces doesn't believe him and is about to shoot him, but David shows up at the last minute, after Josef's despairing plea: "Let us be human!" The baby is born. Both David and Franta go along with Josef's lie about Horst and let the partisans believe that he is indeed a doctor, thus saving his life.

Days later, Josef walks the baby through the devastated streets of his city. In the ruins, we see, round a table, people on both sides murdered by the Nazis. An aria from J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion (Erbarme dich, mein Gott, God, please have mercy on our frailty!) is the denouement of the film.



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