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Jacob The Liar

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Captured this on Tivo months ago, and finally sat down and watched it.  I was surfing at the same time, so I was a little distracted.

One of Robin Williams' serious roles.  The short blurb is that he's a Jew in a Polish ghetto.  He lies about having a radio and makes up fake reports about the progress of the Russians towards the town.

At the beginning of the movie, Jacob is caught outside after curfew and is brought into the Commandant's office.  There, he overhears a brief radio report.  Then, just a little later, he finds a little girl who had jumped off a train that was headed to a death camp.  He hides her in his attic.  Then he tells his friends about what he heard on the radio without telling them where he really heard it.  Over the course of the movie, people know he's hiding something, and they jump to the conclusion that he has a radio.

It turns out, the Jews in the ghetto were prohibited from having any radios, so that they'd have no idea of the real progress of the war.  One side effect of being cut off from the world and restricted to the ghetto by vicious guards was a high suicide rate.

After giving that first report to his friends Jacob tries to tell people he doesn't have a radio.  But everyone wants to believe in it so badly that they assume he's lying about it to protect himself.  So to shut them up, he makes up some optimistic reports.  He manages to sneak a look at a newspaper to read a sports report.   Just enough truth for everyone to sustain their fantasy.

There's a bit about the lives of some of the people.  A libidinous young couple.   Some elders who are trying to decide if they want to organize an escape.  Some are wise, some pretty silly.  Williams has a few mildly humorous bits.  But as in Awakenings, they're pretty subtle.

On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Rental with Dinner.  A story about hope in the face of hopelessness.

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Last modified: November 09, 2004
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