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Sophie’s Choice (1982, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline)



Set in New York in 1947, Sophie’s Choice is an emotionally wrenching account of a young writer’s obsession with a survivor of Auschwitz for which Meryl Streep earned an Academy Award.

Peter MacNicol is Stingo, a hopeful young writer who has moved to a New York boarding house with dreams of writing a great novel but becomes obsessed with Sophie Zawistowska (Streep), the woman who lives upstairs with her violent boyfriend, Nathan Landau (Kevin Kline). At times, Nathan, a charismatic but unstable young Jew who is obsessed by the Holocaust, is horribly cruel to Sophie only to become sweet and tender later.

Stingo first notices the serial numbers tattooed on Sophie’s forearm and the slash marks on her wrists and sees her primarily as a source of literary material – his naivety being illustrated with constant flashbacks to Sophie’s traumatic time in the concentration camp that teaches the young writer much about loss, pain and suffering. For Sophie is deeply troubled by her horrific experiences and, in a cruel and unjust world, tragic choices have to be made…

While Streep is undoubtedly the star of the movie (her Polish accent is perfect and she even learned German for the part), Kline is equally convincing as the erratic, schizophrenic obsessive both charming and violently abusive in equal measure. Adapted from William Styron’s best selling novel, the film doesn’t have the book’s raw, sexual passion. Instead it contains a sensuality between Sophie and Nathan that adds to the heart-wrenching tone of the movie.

production details
USA / 151 minutes / 1982

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Writers: Alan J. Pakula, Novel: William Styron,

Meryl Streep as Zofia “Sophie” Zawistowski
Kevin Kline as Nathan Landau
Peter MacNicol as Stingo
Rita Karin as Yetta
Stephen D. Newman as Larry
Greta Turken as Leslie Lapidus
Marcell Rosenblatt as Astrid Weinstein
Moishe Rosenfeld as Moishe Rosenblum
Robin Bartlett as Lillian Grossman
Eugene Lipinski as Polish Professor
John Rothman as Librarian
Joseph Leon as Dr. Blackstock
David Wohl as English Teacher
Nina Polan as Woman in English Class
Josh Mostel as Morris Fink

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