Synopsis by Jason Buchanan
Author Yoram Kaniuk's celebrated 1971 novel concerning a charismatic yet questionably sane Holocaust survivor comes to the screen in this dark drama starring Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, and Derek Jacobi. In the years before World War II, Adam Stein (Goldblum) was a Berlin entertainer who thrilled audiences with extravagant circus acts and spectacular magic tricks. Later, when Hitler took power and Europe was plunged into chaos, Stein and his family were locked away in a concentration camp presided over by the sadistic Commandant Klein (Dafoe). The only reason Stein survived those dreadful years was because he managed to become the commandant's personal "dog," entertaining his captors even as his wife and daughter are marched off to die. Flash-forward to 1961, when Stein is a patient at an Israeli mental hospital for Holocaust survivors. Seemingly able to read minds, Stein confounds head doctor Nathan Gross (Jacobi) with the question "Who brought a dog in here?" Despite Gross' vehement denial that any such animal is on the premises, Stein soon tracks the scent to a young boy who has spent his entire youth locked in a basement and chained to a wall. Over time, Stein and the boy see in each other something undeniably familiar, and the two kindred spirits set out on a remarkable journey together.
asylum [mental hospital], circus-performer, concentration-camp, dog, Holocaust