Playing for Time

Playing for Time (1980)

Genres - Drama, Music, War, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - POW Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 30, 1980 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

The made-for-television Playing for Time debuted on September 30, 1980. Vanessa Redgrave stars as Fania Fenelon, a Jewish cabaret singer working in Paris at the time of the Nazi invasion. Shipped to the Auschwitz death camp in 1944, Fenelon is certain that she is as doomed as all the other prisoners. But SS camp matron Shirley Knight has other plans: she orders Fenelon and several other female inmates with musical ability to form themselves into a prisoner's orchestra. They are to perform for the benefit of those who are herded into the gas chambers--a "humane" means of easing the condemned into the next world. As much as she despises her work, Fenelon and her fellow musicians continue to play, lest they too be exterminated. The film raises several questions about courage, guilt and survival at any price, but the most controversial aspect was the casting of anti-Zionist Vanessa Redgrave as Fania Fenelon. Like many others, the real-life Fenelon (who died in 1988) was vehemently opposed to Redgrave's appearance in the film. Playing for Time won Emmy Awards for Redgrave, scriptwriter Arthur Miller, supporting actress Jane Alexander, and as Outstanding Dramatic Special. Redgrave's husband Tony Richardson was the original director, but he bowed out and was replaced by Joseph Sargent., who himself was replaced by Daniel Mann (the only one credited)



concentration-camp, woman, atrocity, captive, captor, death, escape, Holocaust, inmate, music, Nazism, orchestra, prison, survivor


High Artistic Quality, High Historical Importance