Picks and Pans Review: Escape from Sobibor

updated 04/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Sun., April 12, 8 p.m. ET)

B+

The opening minutes are wrenchingly dramatic: At the Sobibor concentration camp in Poland, a train arrives and prisoners are ordered to smile as they unload the Nazis' new victims. The people keep coming and coming. Because you already know their fate, the sense of tragedy multiplies with each new face you see. The scene is powerful for what it does not show. In the hour that follows, though, the movie loses impact as it loses restraint. A young actor with perfect teeth almost smiles as he says, "I saw the bodies.... Now I want to kill." He is unable to show depth of emotion; he and the supporting cast and the script are not up to the task of evoking the horror here. But sit patiently through that first hour, for in the next two, this movie has an amazing and true but little-known story to tell—that of the largest escape ever from a concentration camp. Alan Arkin, Rutger (Inside the Third Reich) Hauer and Joanna (Gorky Park) Pacula play prisoners who hold onto life and hope as they plot the impossible. Escape From Sobibor is a testament to human dignity, and its ending is every bit as stirring as its opening.

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