Watch Island on Bird Street
- 1 hr 48 min
Island on Bird Street is a heartwarming coming-of-age movie based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Israeli author Uri Orlev. Set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, this 1997 film follows the journey of a young Jewish boy named Alex (Jordan Kiziuk), who is left to fend for himself when his father is taken away by the Gestapo. With his mother already dead, Alex is forced to live alone in his family's apartment on Bird Street, occasionally venturing outside to scavenge for food in a city torn apart by war. He spends his days reading adventure books and imagining himself as the hero, always on the lookout for danger and opportunity.
Despite the harrowing circumstances, Alex retains his youthful curiosity and resilience. He meets a motley crew of characters along the way, including a friendly sewer worker, a mischievous cat, and even a German soldier who surprisingly shows him kindness.
Throughout the film, Alex's fantasies blend with reality, as he navigates both his own inner world and the horrors of the outside one. His isolation is tested when a group of strangers, also hiding out in the building, stumble upon his hidden sanctuary. Initially wary of the newcomers, Alex eventually forms a bond with them, and the makeshift family helps each other survive in the face of adversity.
The film features a standout performance by Patrick Bergin, who portrays Alex's father in flashbacks and dreams. Bergin imbues the character with the gravity of a man who's been forced to make impossible choices for the sake of his family's survival, while also embodying the tenderness and warmth that Alex remembers.
Jack Warden also gives a powerful performance as Mr. Boruchowicz, an elderly neighbor who becomes a surrogate grandfather to Alex. Warden's on-screen chemistry with Kiziuk is palpable and touching, as the two actors create a believable and heartwarming relationship.
Director SÃ¸ren Kragh-Jacobsen manages to avoid the trap of sentimentality, despite the intense subject matter. His direction is understated and nuanced, allowing the story and characters to speak for themselves. He makes creative use of Alex's imagination, incorporating animated sequences and other visual flourishes that capture the wonder and playfulness of childhood.
Island on Bird Street is ultimately a story about hope and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds. It reminds us that even in the darkest of times, the human spirit can endure, and that a child's imagination can be a powerful tool for survival.
Island on Bird Street is a 1997 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1.