The chilling, opening speech from Hitler sets the tone for Walking with the Enemy.
Unlike a biopic such as Schindler's List, Valkyrie or a mini-series like Band of Brothers, but Walking with the Enemy definitely deserves a place beside them.
From a Hungarian perspective, the film begins with two Jewish boys in Bucharest: Elek and his friend, Ferenc. In their late teens, they live a peaceful life of family dinners, chasing girls, dancing all night, oversleeping and sprinting to their work at a quaint dime store.
But when Nazis invade and send off the young men to work camps, older men, women and children are left behind and shipped to concentration camps.
When allied planes attack the work camp, Elek and Ferenc flee, only to return home and discover their houses have been pillaged and burned or given to non-Jews.
The film hones in on the experience of walking into your home, only to be occupied by another family you've known for years. Then the man of the house, who you've known your entire life, chases you out and reports your return to the authorities.
Life demands Elek and Ferenc to become leaders and men overnight. They lead a resistance in assisting the creation of fake Swiss passports that protect Jews from being put on the Nazi trains to Auschwitz. To assist their underground movement, Elek and Ferenc dress as Nazi officers to save their imprisoned kindred from execution.
Christians and Jews work together to protect and hide the Jewish families, a side of World War II films I've never seen. Also, certain Nazis are depicted struggling with the Gestapo agenda of murdering Jews in light of a war with Russia.
The film, as did Spielberg's Band of Brothers and Singer's Valkyrie, depicts Nazi soldiers and officers disagreeing with Hitler's stance on Jews. Some even undermine Nazi superiors and free Jewish prisoners.
The film also depicts the bickering between German Nazi's and the Hungarian fascist party, The Arrow Cross. Seen through the eyes of Elek, we experience his struggle in striving to end the blood lust of The Arrow Cross while disguised as their superior Nazi officer.
We also see women taking up arms and helping in the resistance against enemy forces. So often in films, women are unfairly and unrealistically depicted huddling in corners and screaming while their Davids take on Goliaths.
The film takes an unexpected turn, when Elek, dressed in Nazi uniform, is attacked by Russian forces. Ironically, he must now battle alongside the Nazis to save his own life and continue saving his fellow Jews.
Walking with the Enemy has excellent visual effects with explosions and action scenes as good as Band of Brothers. Not an easy feat with a budget of less than $20M.
I believe the best scene of the film is toward the end, when Elec and Ferenc scream back and forth about the impossibility of saving all the Jews. Is the risk to save another 100,000 worth being captured, tortured and killed? The dialogue and acting in that scene is top notch.
I would love to see the creators of this film partner with HBO or The History Channel in creating a seven to nine part series based on Walking with the Enemy.
According to IMDB, Walking with the Enemy was the first major feature film for screenwriter (Kenny Golde), director (Mark Schmidt), and executive producer (Randy Williams). If they can create a film of this caliber as their first project, I'm excited to see what they create next.
Kenny Golde is already working toward future projects. He sold "Forsaken" to Walter Parkes (producer of Gladiator and Amistad). He was also hired to write an adaptation of the Isaac Asimov Sci-Fi novel The End of Eternity for Roberto Orci, who the produced the J.J. Abrams' Star Trek films.
I wish Mr. Golde and all the filmmakers the best with their future films.
Make sure to check out The Mason Jar, a coming of age love story told from the male perspective by James Russell Lingerfelt. The novel helps readers find healing after severed relationships.
The Mason Jar movie is scheduled for pre-production in 2015, and will be directed in the same dramatic and romantic tones as The Notebook (2004) and Pride & Prejudice (2005). Follow him on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to his email list for updates.
Follow James Russell Lingerfelt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jrlingerfelt