‘The Survivor’ Review: Ben Foster Lost 60 Pounds to Play a Boxer in Barry Levinson’s Disjointed Holocaust Biopic
, Barry Levinson’s “The Survivor” may be another title on the endless list of films that struggling to depict the atrocities of concentration camps, but it’s one of the few that would have been dramatically improved by not depicting them at all.
Unequal parts “Raging Bull” and Peter Solan’s “The Boxer and Death” — better known by its needless American remake “The Triumph of the Spirit” — Levinson’s biopic tells the brutal story of a strapping Polish kid named Hertzko Haft (Ben Foster), who avoided the gas chambers of Jaworzno by sending dozens of other Jewish men there in his place.By the time the Soviet Red Army swept through the area in 1945, Haft had won 76 of the life-or-death boxing matches staged for the Nazi guards’ amusement, and upon arriving in New York he naturally parlayed his gifts as a pugilist into something of a career.
The war was over,
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