Divided We Fall

Subscribe to Boleslav Polivka alerts

Facts and Figures

Run time: 117 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 16th March 2000

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics


Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: Bolek Polívka as Josef Cízek, Anna Šišková as Marie Cizková, Csongor Kassai as David Wiener, Jaroslav Dušek as Horst Prohaska, Martin Huba as Dr. Albrecht Kepke, Jiří Pecha as Frantisek Simácek, Simona Stašová as Libuse Simácková, Jiří Kodet as Dr. Fischer-Rybáf, Richard Tesařík as Captain, Vladimir Marek as SS Officer

Divided We Fall Movie Review

"Divided We Fall" is another entry in that tricky emerging genre of self-importantly poignant tragicomedies about the Holocaust.

Like Italy's "Life Is Beautiful," Hollywood's "Jakob the Liar" and the French-Romanian "Train of Life," it finds hope and some humor in the shadow of the Nazi jackboot, this time in a small Czech town where middle-aged Josef Cizek and his young wife (Boleslav Polivka and Anna Siskova) have managed to keep the German occupation of their country at arm's length by focusing on trying to have a baby -- without any luck.

It's 1943 and for four years they've watched from behind their curtains as some of their Jewish neighbors fled the town, then later got deported while their homes were ransacked for valuables and turned over to Nazi officials.

But the war, the resistance and the dangers of occupation soon land in their laps when Josef's former employer -- a young Jew named David Weiner (Scongor Kassai) who once lived in a manor at the end of their street -- stumbles, exhausted and ashen, back into town in the middle of the night.

Having escaped a Polish concentration camp, he has returned to the only place he knows, hoping to find aid or asylum. After nearly being exposed by one paranoid neighbor, David happens upon Josef, whose conscience overrides his considerable fear of retribution. Josef and his wife agree to hide David in a cramped, windowless room concealed behind the back of a wardrobe in their modest row house.

David soon becomes a part of their lives, and to avert any possible suspicion of their loyalty, Josef begrudgingly takes a job helping a local Nazi stooge (Jaroslav Dusek) empty out abandon Jewish homes. This draws the intense ire of most of his neighbors, including the hypocrite who tried to turn David in.

Billed as a black comedy, "Divided We Fall" doesn't strain for laughs or for tears, which is what makes it a cut above its genre brethren (it was up for a Best Foreign Film Oscar this year). It is sometimes ironically humorous. To keep from having to house a disgraced Nazi official, Marie claims to be pregnant -- then has to get knocked up in a hurry even though her Josef has just been diagnosed impotent. Even more frequently it is very effective at inspiring apprehension, as when pretty Marie becomes afraid to fend off the advances of the Nazi neighbor who is now Josef's boss (a stout, malicious miscreant with a Hitler mustache).

But after doing a fine job of finding a healing sympathy for even the most unpleasant characters, director Jan Hrebejk seems to feel the need to really stretch thin the uplifting sentimentality as the film draws to a close. The story's impact would have been stronger had he acknowledged the incongruity of Czechoslovakia being "freed" by the Soviets, who were to put in place a system arguably as oppressive as the one they defeated.

Hrebejk is also far too enamoured of employing obnoxious and distracting visual tricks, the most annoying of which is his seemingly random and far too frequent use of a kind of blurry slow-motion. He first employs the technique to add a sense of danger to certain scenes, but by the middle of the movie every third or fourth scene is shot this way.

The four lead actors (husband, wife, refugee and Nazi neighbor) give stalwart performances, although there are a few times when it's hard not to second-guess a character's illogical behavior. But when the film begins to drown in its own good intentions, it's these actors who float to the top keep it from sinking into the depths of mawkish melodramatics.


Subscribe to Boleslav Polivka alerts


Divided We Fall Rating

" Weak "


More Boleslav Polivka

Entourage Trailer

After making a name for themselves in Hollywood, Vincent Chase and his entourage of friends from Queens have finally made a movie. The only problem...

Bastille - Things We Lost In The Fire [Live] Video

Live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta, Bastille perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire', the final single from their debut album...

Bastille - Oblivion [Live] Video

Bastille perform their single 'Oblivion' live on the Honda Stage at Music Midtown in Atlanta. The track followed Platinum hit 'Of The Night' and featured...

HAERTS - Interview Video

Brooklyn band Haerts released their self-titled debut album this year, and here they talk about how they first got into music, their lifelong friendship and...


Mark Ronson - Daffodils ft. Kevin Parker [Audio] Video

Mark Ronson will finally unveil his fourth album 'Uptown Special' on January 26th 2015 through his new label deal with Sony Music. He has teamed...

Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin [Live] Video

Meghan Trainor performs her latest single 'Lips Are Movin' at one of her favourite places in the world: an aquarium. The song features, alongside smash...

HAERTS - Be The One [Live] Video

Haerts perform an intimate live rendition of their song 'Be The One', taken from their self-titled debut album released in October 2014 through Columbia Records....

ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night Video

ScHoolboy Q released his first number one with third album 'Oxymoron', and he now unveils the video to its latest single 'Hell Of A Night'...