In 1994 the playwright George Tabori visits the set of a film being made from his mother's diaries. An encounter with the leading actress whisks him back to the past to place the story in context - a distancing framework that challenges us to consider our own connection with these images of terror. There's more time for reflection as the action moves on to Tabori's mother, a middle-aged housewife arrested while doing her shopping and dispatched to Budapest's main railway station, where the Gestapo punctiliously marshal hundreds of her fellow Jews into freight wagons. Surprising, maybe, to see Pauline Collins as Mrs Tabori (the film's shot in English), but she's superb as an essentially cheery woman numbed by the events around her and driven to make a stand for the first time in her life. Determined to avoid displaying emotion in front of her captors, Collins, in a key moment, chokes back the tears in a straining, desperate attempt to retain her dignity. A remarkable scene, and it says a lot for the power and intelligence of the film and its central performance, that its most haunting image is of a woman trying not to cry.
Cast and crew