Remember This Parent Guide
Strathairn's riveting performance is a fitting tribute to the heroism of the Polish patriot he's portraying.
Parent Movie Review
Although he had hoped to be a diplomat, Jan Karski (David Strathairn) was born in the wrong place and the wrong time for such a peaceful life. Poland in the late 1930’s is a nation on the brink of a devastating war, and Karski is soon conscripted into the Polish Army. Polish defenses quickly crumble when faced by the Nazi’s blitzkrieg invasion and then a second invasion by the Soviet Union. Karski finds himself wandering the countryside, looking for a way home. Instead, he finds a new job as an information courier for the newly formed Polish Underground. His task is to observe the conditions within Poland to be communicated to the Government in Exile. The hope is that with this first-hand information, the Polish government, and more importantly, the Allies, will be able to intervene and prevent the depredations and cruelties which currently brutalize the people of Poland. But even after Karski has seen so much, who’s to say he’ll be believed?
This one-man-show sees David Strathairn explaining the real life of Jan Karski in a small white room, decorated only with a table and a few chairs. Despite the humble environment, Strathairn (with the help of some sound effects and lighting changes) brings Karski’s chilling story to life. The tale is filled with historical horrors but the film avoids particularly graphic details, only providing enough information to give a clear picture of events, without trying to cash in on any perceived shock value. It also avoids profanity, sexual content, or drug use, making this a remarkably suitable resource for students studying World War 2 generally and the Holocaust specifically.
There might be some issues with that younger audience, though, and those mostly relate to the simplicity of the format. All we see is Strathairn in a small room for an hour and a half, talking about his adventures and what he witnessed, but the action is very muted by the format. My biggest hangup was his Polish accent, which isn’t terrible but is distracting. I honestly would have preferred that he just did it in his actual voice, but I suppose an actor with his record is allowed to make that call for himself.
A story about moral courage, profound bravery, and the unmanageable horrors of the Holocaust, Remember This manages difficult subjects with an elegance rarely seen – if you have the patience and focus for its simple narrative style. Karski’s real-life heroism is intended not only to be informative, but inspirational. The film is quick to remind its audience that, while the holocaust ended nearly 80 years ago, it is not the only genocide that has occurred, and some are still occurring now. What this film asks of us is to think of something we are not already doing and do it – that with a combined outpouring of focus and effort, ordinary people can make a difference. I only hope that we can make that effort in time.Directed by Jeff Hutchens & Derek Goldman. Starring David Strathairn. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release January 27, 2023. Updated January 22, 2024
Watch the trailer for Remember This
Rating & Content Info
Why is Remember This rated Not Rated? Remember This is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: There are descriptions of massacres, murders, torture, and the Holocaust, but nothing is seen on-screen.
Sexual Content: None.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated January 22, 2024
Remember This Parents' Guide
Jan Karski is certainly a hero, but he is not the only person to risk their life during the war. What does the title “Righteous Among Nations” mean? How is it given, and who are some of the other recipients?
Witold Pilecki was another Polish army officer who did work for the resistance during the war, including deliberately sneaking himself into Auschwitz with a camera and a notepad. What became of him? Who are some other individuals who took incredible risks to save lives?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
For more information about Karski’s frustrating task you can read Messengers of Disaster: Raphael Lemkin, Jan Karski, and Twentieth-Century Genocides by Annette Becker and translated by Kathe Roth.
Jan Karski tells his own story in his book Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World.
The text of the play is accompanied by essays from historians, academics, and diplomats in Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski.
Related home video titles:
Other films about the Holocaust include Schindler’s List, Sophie’s Choice, Conspiracy, The Book Thief, The Pianist, andAnne Frank: Parallel Stories. The film also references Shoah, the 9-hour documentary film by Claude Lanzmann, which features interviews with Jan Karski.
Karski isn’t the only truth-teller who had trouble being believed. The Auschwitz Report tells the story of two young Slovak Jews who escaped from Auschwitz with documentary evidence, only to find that people in power often didn’t want to believe what they heard. When British reporter Gareth Jones documented the famine the Soviets imposed on Ukraine in the 1930s, he broke the story to the world. Mr. Jones shows that his story was poorly received. In our day there are still people who refuse to believe that the Holocaust took place. Denial recounts the story of an academic forced to go to court to prove that the Nazis murdered millions of people.