The Devil's Arithmetic

Showtime, Millbrook Farm Productions, Punch Productions and Showtime Networks Released 1999


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Movie Summary

Donna Deitch
Sixteen-year-old Long Island teenager, Hannah Stern, accompanies her mother and father to visit Aunt Eva for the Jewish holiday celebration of Passover. Although Hannah has always felt a special bond with Aunt Eva, the young girl is not interested in hearing her uncle's stories of the Holocaust. Reluctantly taking part in the tradition of Seder, Hannah opens the door to prepare for the arrival of the prophet Elijah, and she is mysteriously transported to Poland in the year 1941. Lying in a comfortable, but antiquated bedroom, Hannah is greeted by a young girl, Rivkah, and the girl's mother, Mina. They seem to recognize Hannah as being a completely different person and they inform her that she has just recovered from an illness. Hannah is welcomed into the activities of the village and attends the wedding of Leah and Shmuel. The ceremony is interrupted by Nazi soldiers who, despite protests from a courageous rabbi, torch the synagogue and haul everyone away to a concentration camp. Inside the camp, which is administered by the intimidating Commandant Krieger, all the captured Jewish people are tattooed and their heads are shaven. The infants, the elderly and the feeble are exterminated, while the others remain in camp to toil under harsh and inhumane conditions. Somehow, the prisoners manage to maintain their humanity. To lend spiritual encouragement, Hannah and a few other girls prepare a Seder dinner, which for Hannah now has a deeper meaning. Hannah and Rivkah develop a close friendship, but Rivkah soon becomes ill. Hannah is surprised to hear Rivkah say that if she should ever escape, Rivkah would change her name to Eva. It is then that Hannah makes the connection between past and present, realizing that Rivkah is in reality, her beloved Aunt Eva as a young girl.moreless

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