Return to the Hiding Place

Movie review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Return to the Hiding Place Movie Poster Image
Uneven faith-based drama has lots of war/Holocaust violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the power of faith and perseverance during difficult times. Getting involved and taking action are better than staying passive.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Corrie ten Boom shelters many Jews and resistance fighters in the Hiding Place. Hans' faith motivates him to get involved, fight for what's right, and help those suffering. Brave teens risk their lives to rescue the Jews or warn them of danger. Characters sometimes resort to violence as a means to carrying out an otherwise worthy goal.

Violence

Several shootings and executions in which blood spurts out; characters are beaten and tortured during interrogations; explosion during a rescue; a child is taken off screen to be killed, and his skin is used as a lamp shade.

Sex

A Nazi soldier tries to get a woman to kiss him.

Language

"Retard"; German soldiers refer to Jews as rats.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke cigarettes (accurate for the era).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Return to the Hiding Place is a faith-based World War II drama based on Hans Poley's same-named autobiographical book, which details his experiences as a student resistance fighter in Corrie ten Boom's untrained teenage army. Although the movie stresses the power of faith and perseverance, characters often resort to violence during dangerous Holocaust rescue missions. Nazi soldiers call a group of Jewish orphans "retards" and often refer to the Jews as rats. There are also several violent, disturbing scenes, including bloody shootings and executions, characters being beaten and tortured during interrogations, and a young boy's skin being used as a Nazi's lampshade after the boy's death (off screen).

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What's the story?

When young physics student Hans Poley (David Thomas Jenkins) refuses to join the Nazi party, his parents force him into hiding at Dutch watchmaker Corrie ten Boom's (Mimi Sagadin) home, making him the first fugitive to stay in the Hiding Place. After witnessing the suffering of the Jews -- and motivated by his faith to get involved -- Hans joins resistance fighter Piet Hartog (Craig Robert Young); Corrie's niece, Aty van Woerden (Rachel Spencer Hewitt); and other untrained teens who embark on dangerous missions to help the Jews escape and lead them to safety.

Is it any good?

Viewers may find it difficult to determine whether Hans' faith-driven mission or Piet and Aty's heart-wrenching romance is the movie's main focus. Which is surprising, as the directors worked closely with the real-life Hans Poley to tell the stories of the unsung teenage heroes of the Dutch Resistance. Compared to the many suspenseful, dangerous rescue missions, the picturesque scenes of Piet and Aty surrounded by Dutch tulips feel out of place. To move from fast-paced action to blissful romance to disturbing Holocaust violence without smooth transitions is a jarring experience. 

Still, the thought-provoking discussions that Hans has with Eusi (John Rhys-Davies) -- a Jew hiding at Corrie's -- about the power of faith (as well as the motivational speech about perseverance that Hans gives to the teens who doubt they're making any significant impact) highlight his selflessness and bravery. Viewers may feel inspired to get involved in current social issues. As Hans points out, "If not us, then who?"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why movies about World War II and the Holocaust are still compelling. What connection do stories about these events have with today's world?

  • How does Return to the Hiding Place depict the violence of the Holocaust? What would make people behave that way? How is that period of history typically portrayed in the media? How does this type of violence compare to what you might see in an action or horror movie? Which has more impact? Why?

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