All My Loved Ones
Wellspring // Unrated // $24.98 // January 13, 2004
Review by Don Houston | posted February 9, 2004
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Movie: I'm not a historian by trade but I have a pretty good memory for the general events that shaped our world, particularly events taking place during the last century. Some of the biggest events that took place were in relation to World War Two, with the rise of Adolph Hitler with Nazi Germany. Hitler and his policies were responsible for the mass genocide of millions of people, for no other reason than how they worshipped. As Hitler rose in power, and the world was swept into a devastating war of epic proportions, a great many stories of individuals who did what they could to save some small corner of decency came to light. One of those stories is documented in a little independent movie from Czechoslovakia, All My Loved Ones (Vsichni Moji Blizci).

The movie is set during 1939 in Czechoslovakia. Hitler's forces were expanding throughout Europe, sending Jews to concentration camps for later purification. In a small town lives Dr. Silberstein and his family. The good doctor has a thriving private practice and life is good, for now. As time progresses, the doctor finds that German forces are controlling his country and soon begin implementing policies that put him on notice that he's screwed. When a British stockbroker comes to town, offering to send his son to Britain (in an effort to save him), the doctor scoffs until it becomes clear that this may be the only way to save the boy. The stockbroker, Nicholas Winton (Rupert Graves), has been using any means necessary to get as many kids out of the country as he could, saving over 600 before his operation is shut down. As the perils quickly escalate, will the doctor be able to get his child out before it's too late?

Okay, my biggest complaint about the DVD is probably the fact that the box misleads the consumer into thinking the story is about Winton, yet the character is rarely in the picture and only on the periphery. The story is divided between the doctor (with his family) and his concert violinist brother. Unlike the more popular Schindler's List, this time the story focuses on one of the families, not the savior. I liked the story although it was a bit too much like a "movie of the week" at times. So much of the detail was simplified, as though taken from the long-lost memories of a child, that the story became almost generic. I also wasn't keen on the way that the sub-plots ate into the running time. It wasn't a long movie and it would've been better to focus a bit more on the nuclear family rather than every relative they had, which diluted the impact a bit.

I'm rating this one as a Rent It since there were no value adding extras to speak of, the way the story was handled and the nature of the DVD. I think the movie would make a good supplement to the aforementioned Schindler's List but as a stand alone DVD, I think it'd make more sense to rent it first and determine if it is good enough to add to your collection.

Picture: The picture was presented in it's originally filmed aspect ratio of 1.66:1. It was in color, although a bit muted color, and the film appeared to have been made for Czech television. There was a significant amount of grain and mosquito noise, a common occurrence on low budget foreign shows, but the content was important enough to make the visual defects less important.

Sound: The audio was presented in 5.1 stereo Czech with optional English subtitles (although when the cast spoke English, the subtitles were presumably in Czech). The vocals were reasonably clear and the music decent but neither was very advanced. The music seemed to have a bit more separation between the channels than the vocals and I believe it was filmed in 2.0 originally.

Extras: The extras were limited to some trailers, a photogallery, and a couple of filmographies. None of the extras really added any value to the DVD but the main event, the feature itself, was the focal point.

Final Thoughts: The movie was interesting in regards to its theme and the historical significance of the subject matter but it couldn't overcome the television style nature of how it was handled. The technical aspects were fairly basic too but the story has enough importance that I hope a lot of people check it out.

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