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The Painted Bird

 (286)
7.32 h 49 min2020X-Ray18
Based on Jerzy Kosiński’s 1965 novel and a long time in the making, Václav Marhoul’s extraordinary The Painted Bird finds a lone Jewish boy on a dark odyssey towards home during wartime.
Directors
Vaclav Marhoul
Starring
Petr KotlarUdo KierStellan Skarsgård
Genres
HorrorDrama
Subtitles
None Available
Audio Languages
English
Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 48 hours to finish once started.

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More details

Supporting actors
Harvey KeitelJulian Sands
Studio
Silver Screen
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

286 global ratings

  1. 61% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 5% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 9% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Willow54Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 July 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Not for the faint of heart
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I missed this movie at a recent film festival and I have wanted to see it ever since. Basically it is the story of a young Jewish boy trying to find his way back to his family at the end of World War II, after he has been sent to live with an elderly relative somewhere in the wilds of Eastern Europe to protect him from being sent to the concentration camps.
The movie pulls no punches. It is extremely honest and forthright in its' portrayal of the horrors and privations suffered by a traumatised surviving population in the last days of the War and beyond. The fact that it is shot entirely in monochrome only adds to the bleakness of everyone's situation. The boy navigates his way through a variety of dangerous scenarios with a stoicism and maturity well beyond his years. He is subjected to mistrust, violence and abuse throughout his long, arduous journey. Compassion is very much in short supply, and when it is shown, it is merely a front for another agenda.
There are some very challenging scenes, which are not for the faint of heart. There is violence, animal cruelty and sexual abuse. That said, these scenes are not excessively graphic or gratuitous, but handled with a degree of sensitivity, where the impact and consequence of them is implied, rather than being openly on view.
The movie requires quite a commitment from the viewer, both in terms of their ability to bear what they are seeing, and their endurance. It's a long story, just shy of three hours in the telling. I don't think you would be disappointed, however. It's difficult to watch in places, but it's an honest portrayal of a terrible situation. It also doesn't fully answer the questions it poses, so, as for a happy ending? Well, you'll have to decide for yourself whether you think that is the case.
19 people found this helpful
Rudimentary BoldReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 November 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
BRILLIANT!
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I know exactly what the boy 'Joska' goes through in this portrayal of survival a million miles away from sancturary and people you can trust.

Harrowing from start to finish.  The boy finds himself homeless and at the mercy of life on the road.  The landscapes are mesmerizingly beautiful and haunting. Not knowing what awaits him around every corner, hill or tree.  Each time he thinks he's found sanctuary, he is brutally disappointed and finds the worst in human behaviour.  The worst kind of human is he or she befriends you and treats you with utter kindness and care only to be grooming you for their degradation. Some characters are genuine but like so many real life genuine characters, they are blind, too trusting or innocent or naive to know what is really going on behind the facades. Let down and ill-treated by society, I know exactly what the boy 'Joska' goes through in this portrayal of survival a million miles away from sancturary and people you can trust.

Harrowing from start to finish.  The boy finds himself homeless and at the mercy of life on the road.  Not knowing what awaits him around every corner, hill or tree.  Each time he thinks he's found sanctuary, he is brutally disappointed and finds the worst in human behaviour.  The worst kind of human is he or she befriends you and treats you with utter kindness and care only to be grooming you for their degradation.

Beatifully shot and lit, some scenes reminding me of Dr Zhivago among other films.

This is a test of staying power, but rewarding if you get to the end.

Beatifully shot, lit and eerie, some scenes reminding me of Dr Zhivago among other films.

This is a test of staying power, but rewarding if you get to the end.
3 people found this helpful
John RansonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 October 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Dull "ordeal" cinema
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Pretty awful actually. Not really a picture of Eastern Europe during WW2, which is what sucked me in, but simply a succession of sadistic, picaresque scenes and imagery. "Come and See" it ain't. Watch on (very) fast forward
6 people found this helpful
Jonah9Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
OMG
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I loved this movie. The child actor is amazing and I hope he goes on to do well as he grows up.
The abuse he suffers is incredible and his undying trust in adults is innocent.
All shot in Black and white which makes it more chilling.
I couldn’t follow how his father finally catches up with him as his father wasn’t in his life at the start of the film. And the boy travels across his homeland too for his story.
The revenge he wreaks on those who hurt him is accidental but no the less well deserved.
The priest who handed him to the paedophile farmer should have received some punishment too.
The way the bot reacts to his father suddenly finding him and and being overjoyed at finding him is hard to watch but also brutal and well deserved too.
A sound film about how they get on after finding each other would be gripping
Thoroughly recommend this film
I only hope the boy’s mental health was well protected during filming as he went through some brutal abuse.
One person found this helpful
J. R. P. WigmanReviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 September 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A mirror for all of us when things look bleak
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This is a monumental piece of work. The story follows The Boy (jewish, homeless) on his harrowing journey somewhere in Eastern Europe during WWII to some place he can truly call home. He drifts from temporary shelter to temporary shelter but in most cases he gets abused, forcing him to move on. No-one is truly a friend, or it must be that German soldier who (once again) gives him a temporary shelter. Death is always near: people threatening to kill him, starvation, cold, you name it. And it changes him: behind his ever-silent exterior he changes from a sensitive boy into one that does not turn away from brutal violence to survive or take revenge.

This sounds quite grim and so it is: it brutally shows people’s behavior in times of war and disorder, a far cry from today’s comfortable and well-ordered life we know in the ‘First World’. People may find a lot of it shocking, but it doesn’t take too much digging to realise that it doesn’t take a lot to let people revert to ‘primitive’ behavior.

That said, the film is never very explicit in depicting these horrors. It shows a laudable restraint but enough to have an impact on the viewer. Besides, the black & white cinematography is absolutely stunning.
This film about WWII is not just about WWII: it shows us how easy it is to descend into cruelty by ignorance, prejudice, callousness or just grim circumstances. Let’s hope we’ll be able to continue to look at this film from our comfy bubble in the knowledge our own humanity will not be put to this kind of test.
This is not exactly entertainment, but it certainly is a fine, dark mirror.
GarethReviewed in the United Kingdom on 06 February 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Overhyped, Pointless and Boring
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If you're looking for some crazy banned holocaust film then you're out of luck, I don't know how or why the reviews on this say 'not for the faint hearted' or 'brutal', the Saw movies are more graphic than this and by some way.

I read that they showed this at the Venice Film Festival and people were walking out in disgust... I have no idea why, I've seen more gore and violence in a bog standard horror movie. There is nothing that will shock you.

It's basically a series of scenes with a young jewish boy travelling though occupied Poland during WW2 and he manages to stumble across the most exaggerated people from start to finish. It's a pointless waste of 3 hours of your life... if you want the holocaust watch Schindler's list.

The only positive thing I will say is it's very well-acted, the jewish boy is a great actor and some of the scenes he does at 12/13yrs of age is brilliant.
One person found this helpful
Musky Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 February 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Watching paint dry
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This isn't classic cinema though it tries extremely hard to bore viewers into submission.
Countless past Eastern European film directors even with threats of Soviet censorship have successfully touched on this sensitive issue which this movie sadly lacks in substance or real depth. Bizarrely its based on autobiographical accounts which turned out to be totally fictitious which is extremely unsettling considering its subject matters including war, extreme violence, animal cruelty, child abuse and sadism.
The main character aimlessly drifts from one violent episode to another over three long hours. Even though he appears in nearly every frame the character remains distant almost void of any emotion not unlike supporting cast. This is a pointless exercise which reaches agonising heights of being there for the sake of being produced for whatever that might be.
One person found this helpful
Mr. Michael MooreReviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 February 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Tin Drum Psychosis
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In Gunter Grass's novel a child's growth becomes stunted as Hitler rises to power. In this film a Jewish boy experiences this trauma through a desolate landscape straight out of Bosch and medieval ordeals, to be finally, partially redeemed at the end.
Visually stunning in black and white the film portrays the brutality of the world where the weak get tormented and obliterated. Extremely powerful and moving.
(I would be grateful if someone could inform if they received the 'collector's booklet' that should be available. I have tried two copes and neither contained it?)
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