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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Miracle at Midnight is a Disney TV movie based on an awe-inspiring true story from World War II with perilous and violent scenes that may upset younger viewers. The fictionalized Koster family -- including Dr. Karl Koster (Sam Waterston) and Doris Koster (Mia Farrow) -- coordinate Denmark's citizen-led operation to save the country's Jewish residents from being deported to concentration camps during the Nazi occupation. Nazi characters are ruthless, violent, and based on historical characters. However, one Nazi shows courage and empathy when he leaks the date of the planned arrests to Dr. Koster. A schoolgirl who believes Nazi propaganda shares an anti-Jewish opinion. Violence and the threat of violence runs throughout. Characters are shot and some die from bloody wounds. One man takes his own life ahead of the planned arrests. Yet despite this constant threat and in the face of oppression, characters show the best possible human traits, including compassion and bravery. Some characters have concerns that lead to moral discussions and hard sacrifices are made. Characters are briefly shown with wine glasses at a wedding party. Two young couples kiss.
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What's the story?
Is it any good?
The true account of how more than 7,000 Danish Jews were saved from deportation by an incredible citizen effort is a story well worth telling. With Miracle at Midnight, Disney has made a noble effort, producing a well-meaning movie that achieves what it sets out to do. However, by focusing on just one altruistic family -- the fictionalized Koster family -- and constrained by a TV movie budget, the end result feels somewhat minor in the face of the enormity of the real-life story.
A stellar cast, including Waterson and Farrow as the heads of the Koster family, bring all the necessary drama, threat, worry, and bravery to carry the movie. That said, the attempts at a Danish accent are patchy across the board, with much of the supporting cast sounding suspiciously Irish -- the movie was indeed filmed in Ireland. Miracle at Midnight paints with broad strokes but its palette is rich, with action, adventure, peril, moral dilemmas, and ethical discussions. Ultimately it's a great starting point to inspire further reading about an incredible feat of human kindness.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the historical framework of Miracle at Midnight. Does the movie teach us anything? How have other movies dealt with similar subjects?
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