Why you should see the new Russian historical movie 'Sobibor'

Konstantin Khabenskiy/Cinema Production, 2018
War drama 'Sobibor,' featuring leading Russian and Hollywood actors, tells the story of the only successful mass breakout from a Nazi extermination camp in history.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the mass breakout from the Sobibor extermination camp — the most successful attempt ever undertaken in such camps during WW2. New Russian historical movie “Sobibor,” due to be released in May, is dedicated to these events.

The movie premiere was screened on April 23 in Warsaw, since the camp was located in Poland, almost 130 km from the Polish capital. After the planned release in Russia on May 3, “Sobibor” will be screened worldwide.

Based on true events

On Oct. 14, 1943, over 400 prisoners led by Jewish Soviet officer Alexandr Pechersky attempted an uprising in the Sobibor extermination camp. They killed 11 SS guards and tried to capture an armory. Having failed, they rushed en masse to the forests through a minefield.

Most of the runaways were killed, captured, instantly shot or betrayed by locals and also executed. Only 53 people survived the end of the war, including Alexander Pechersky, who died in 1990.

130 prisoners who chose not to escape were executed the next day, Oct. 15. By the personal order of Heinrich Himmler, the camp was completely terminated to erase all memory of the breakout.

The cast

Leading Russian actor Konstantin Khabensky portrays the central figure — Alexander Pechersky. And after some personnel changes, he was also invited to become its director, which was a new experience for him.

Khabensky is known to foreign audiences for his roles in such Russian blockbusters as “Night Watch,” “Day Watch” and “Admiral.” Besides, he has appeared in several foreign projects, including “Black Sea,” “Wanted,” “Unfriended” and “World War Z.”

Konstantin Khabensky says his movie is not a documental depiction of events, but a fictional story, and his Pechersky is more like a collective image than a real person.

“Sobibor” is a history of people who are forced to act in cruel dangerous circumstances, when death can come at any second. The movie shows “the details of human life, a life retreating, clinging, trying to survive,” Khabensky says. (link in Russian)

The other main role in the movie —  camp commandant Karl Frenzel — is portrayed by French-American actor Christopher Lambert. He, Khabensky says, has the perfect “look of the wolf.”

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