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Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man
Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man “Given the opportunity to get safely
out of Budapest, Hungary, during the
  German occupation in 1944, an Italian
  cattle dealer chooses instead to risk
  his life to save as many Jews as he
  possibly can in the traumatic and yet
  at times heart-warming film Perlasca:
  The Courage Of A Just Man

WITH THE RED ARMY RELENTLESSLY BOMBARDING Budapest during the German occupation of Hungary in 1944, Italian import and export cattle dealer Giorgio Perlasca (Luca Zingaretti: BBC hit series Montalbano) is desperate to get safely to Trieste, close to the Slovenian border in Italy, where his beloved wife Nerina waits for him.

Giorgio has been in Budapest on business and although the war is raging he has managed to avoid having too much to do with it; until he finds himself trapped, a wanted man and unable to escape from the Hungarian capital.

Hungarian Countess Eleonora (Mathilda May) whose husband fought in Russia for the Reich steps in to save Giorgio from the attention of the sadistic German Captain Bleiber (Gyrgy Cserhalmi) and tells him to go to the Pajor Sanatorium and ask for Professor Balazs (Jean Franois Garreaud), who will help him.

“Perlasca: The Courage
Of A Just Man
is an incredible,
sometimes harrowing
film that honours
the heroic Italian who
risked his life
to save thousands
of others
At the sanatorium, Giorgio discovers that a number of Jews are hiding in the Infectious Diseases wing; and as he joins them he begins to make friends with them and becomes especially close to Magda (Amanda Sandrelli), her daughter Lilli (Titanilla Varga) and a young orphaned boy.

He hears their tragic and horrific stories and, when the fugitives are discovered and have to flee the sanatorium, witnesses first hand the appalling treatment of the Hungarian Jews, who are cruelly and violently sought out and victimised by the Germans.

Seeking refuge at the Spanish Embassy, Giorgio is at first balked by secretary Mme Tourne and her son. But when he finally gets to see lawyer Farkas gyvd (Jrme Anger) and Spanish Ambassador ngel Sanz Briz (Gza Tordy), he produces a letter from General Franco offering him an open door to Spain for the heroism he displayed while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Now calling himself Jorge and, with Sanz Briz's full co-operation, Giorgio passes himself off as the Spanish Consul. With Spain neutral territory, he is able to give sanctuary to Jews whom he claims to be "Sephardic" Jews of Spanish origin.

More tragedy is to come as Giorgio desperately seeks to save the Jews from the labour camps and death camps. As men, women and children are being forced onto a freight train, he bravely snatches two young children from under the nose of the notorious German Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann (Tams Pusks).

Over the period of forty-five days from 1 December 1944 to 16 January 1945, Giorgio Perlasca risked his life on numerous occasions to save the lives of over five thousand Jewish men, women and children. Often compared to Oskar Schindler, Giorgio Perlasca is an Italian hero whose unstinting drive to save lives during the Holocaust earned him commendations from many countries, including his homeland and Israel.

Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man is an incredible, sometimes harrowing film that honours the heroic Italian, who risked his life to save thousands of others, and the staff of the foreign embassies, including the Spanish, Swiss and Swedish embassies, who were instrumental in harbouring and helping Hungarian Jews in wartime Budapest.

Once home in Italy, Giorgio did not tell his family and friends what he had done. A modest man, he had to admit to his courage in 1988 when a group of Hungarian Jews he had helped tracked him down to Padua. Israel declared Giorgio Perlasca 'A Just Man' and planted a tree in his name in Jerusalem. He died of a heart attack in Padua in 1992.

Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man also features: Elena Arvigo as Anna; Christiane Filangeri as Eva; Dezs Garas as The Rabbi; Palle Granditzky as Jacob; Marco Bonini as Sandor; Lorenzo Lavia as Daniel; Franco Castellano as Adam; Istvn Gz as Istvn Dobris; and Kvdy Spah as Ferenc.

The wonderful musical score is by Oscar-winning master composer Ennio Moricone; Cinematography is by Stefano Ricciotti; Writers are: Enrico Deaglio (Novel: La banalit del bene), Stefano Rulli and Sandro Petraglia; Producer is Carlo Degli Esposti; and Director is Alberto Negrin.

* The amazing story of Italian hero Giorgio Perlasca is told in the fascinating film Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man (Perlasca: un eroe italiano), released on DVD by Odyssey on 8 April 2013. Running Time: 197 Minutes | Catalogue Number: OD546 | Year: 2002 | Language: English Subtitled | RRP: 15.99.

"Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man is an incredible, sometimes harrowing film that honours the heroic Italian who risked his life to save thousands of others" Maggie Woods, MotorBar

"More courageous than Spielberg in its depiction of Nazi brutality" Village Voice

"A well-deserved tribute to a principled man who dared to act when principles no longer counted for anything" TV Guide