Trailer: ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ is a Poignant Portrait of Life in Exile From Fascism

When Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit was first published in 1971, it quickly became a sensation, selling more than a million copies. Based on her real life story of exile from Germany during WWII – her family fled to Zurich, then Paris, and finally London – it surely captured something poignant about a little girl’s experience fleeing a homeland where Jews were not only no longer welcomed, but under threat of complete extermination.

And as the first trailer arrives for an intriguing new film adaptation (from Greenwich Entertainment, opening May 21 in New York and Los Angeles, followed by select markets), we’re reminded that she (named Anna Kempner in the film, and played by Riva Krymalowski) was a very special little girl – as her uncle is seen insisting to her, “There’s a bright light burning in your heart. Protect it. Don’t let anyone blow it out.”

Perhaps appropriately, the film arrives at a time when totalitarian ideology has been notably on the rise again in Europe and America – and neo-Nazis, specifically, have become emboldened. Considering that, a single line in the trailer actually sums the story up so succinctly and viscerally, as an unidentified woman turns to the fleeing family and spits the contempt-filled words, “You Jews always have to be the best, don’t you?” The uncle then relates a horrifying story to father Arthur Kempner (Oliver Masucci): “Do you remember Professor Teitelbaum? They put him in a dog cage, with a chain around his neck.” Which is, of course, precisely why Arthur needed to get his family out of Germany.

The film is helmed by Caroline Link, the Academy Award winning director of 2003’s Nowhere in Africa; and it seems to have an almost dreamlike quality, at least in terms of aesthetics and atmospherics. The Pink Rabbit of the title refers to a beloved stuffed toy Anna accidentally leaves behind in Berlin – and it’s symbolic of why it is never anything less than a deeply painful decision to leave behind one’s homeland to escape imminent danger.

“You don’t go into exile for fun,” Arthur explains in the trailer. “You miss the country of your childhood. You miss the people. You miss the language.”

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is above all, then, another timely reminder of the consequences of unfounded hate, wherever it may be found.

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