Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Uprising' Unsettling Saga of Honor Few Know History of Jewish Defiance

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Uprising' Unsettling Saga of Honor Few Know History of Jewish Defiance

Article excerpt

Byline: Nancy McAlister, Times-Union staff writer

It's a story few know: A couple thousand Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto managed to hold off the German army longer than did the entire country of Poland.

The story of these fighters is finally told in Uprising (9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, NBC), a four-hour miniseries starring Leelee Sobieski, Hank Azaria, David Schwimmer, Jon Voight and Donald Sutherland. Unlike previous Holocaust telemovies, this ambitious project depicts the strategies of defiance and armed resistance of Jews marked for death by the Nazi regime's Final Solution. Sunday's episode explores the hopelessness Polish Jews experienced after the Nazis decreed that 350,000 of them be forcibly moved into a cordoned area known as the Warsaw Ghetto. Faced with either death by starvation and disease or by transport to the extermination camp Treblinka, a group of determined men and women became the Jewish Fighting Organization.

In Monday's telecast, the drama heightens, as in one dramatic skirmish after another, the resistance fighters hold off German troops and tanks with amazing success. Ultimately the Nazis, under the command of a frustrated Gen. Stroop (Voight), had to resort to demolishing one building at a time. And even then, the resourceful army of idealists learned to live in underground bunkers.

Though most of them perished in their fight, their goal, as leader Mordecai Anielewicz (Azaria) put it, was to live and die with honor.

"The dream of my life has come true," he wrote in a letter before his final battle. "I've lived to see a Jewish defense in the ghetto in all its greatness and glory."

Based largely on the accounts of survivors, Uprising is unsettling, and at times powerful, TV. Director/writer Jon Avnet obviously has a passion for this story, and it shows in the scale of the production and in the attention to detail. But in giving the Warsaw Jews their due as heroes, Uprising sacrifices individual narratives and characterizations. …

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