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Triumph of the Spirit Reviews

Systematically stripped of human dignity, the prisoners of Auschwitz waged a minute-to-minute struggle for mere existence. TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT focuses one Auschwitz internee's fight within the larger fight, telling the story of real-life Greek boxer Salamo Arouch (Willem Dafoe), who was forced to battle for his life against other inmates in boxing matches that provided off-hours diversion for the camp's SS hierarchy. The film also details Arouch's successful pre-WWII boxing career, his love affair with his future wife (Wendy Gazelle), who also survived Auschwitz, and his struggle to keep his father (Robert Loggia) alive in the camp. TRIUMPH OF THE SPIRIT was the first film of its kind to be shot on the grounds of Auschwitz, and director Robert M. Young makes judicious use of his setting--neither shrine nor stage set, it gives the film a firm grounding in history and a corresponding commitment to truth. But although interesting, well-acted, and competently made, this graphic re-creation of a singularly horrifying period offers little new insight into the evil of the Holocaust.