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Hallmark's The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Movie Review

Brenda loves a good movie including an occasional horror movie. There are ten here on this page. I hope you find a new villain to watch.

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

An Unforgettable True Story

Irene Sendler worked at great personal risk to herself to save 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland and lived to tell her amazing story. Even though there is a book written about her efforts and now an extremely well-done made-for-television Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, she remains a little known hero.

On this page, learn a bit more about the 2009 Hallmark movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, which does a moving and fairly true job of sharing her story as it unfolded during a dark and particularly dreadful period in modern history.

Click here to order your copy of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler from Amazon.

Movie Trailer With Behind The Scenes Footage

There is no typical movie trailer available for The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler but there is this one which shares footage as well as commentary from the making of the movie.

Plot Summary

It has been said that Irena Sendler is a remarkable and unlikely hero. I agree. During the Second World War, she lead a small group that worked diligently to save 2,500 Jewish children ONE CHILD AT A TIME.

Irena was a social worker, which granted her access to the Warsaw Ghetto and allowed her to formulate a plan and rescue these children. She gathered together a group of friends and coworkers to remove the children from the Ghetto and find them safe homes with Catholic families. She used any method that would work including but not limited to ambulances, suitcases and wheelbarrows.

The story comes to the conclusion that one might expect given the circumstances. In the movie as in real life, Ms. Sendler managed to keep her silence and that is where the movie ends. In real life, she survived the war years and lived a long life, claiming that what she had done during World War II was something she HAD to do and not something over which she had any choice. In 2007, she was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Price. In 2008, Ms. Sendler died.

Fast Facts

CAST: Anna Paquin, Goran Visnjic, Marcia Gay Harden, Michelle Dockery, Danuta Stenka, Rebecca Windheim, Sergei Marchenko, Paul Freeman and Leigh Lawson

WRITERS: Based on Irena Sendler's biography written by Anna Mieszkowska.

SCRIPT: John Kent Harrison and Lawrence John Spagnola



FILMED IN: Riga, Latvia because Warsaw was too modern in appearance.

AWARDS: Nominated for 6 and winner of 1 Golden Globe

RUNTIME: 95 minutes

RATING: Not rated

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The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler


Viewer reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this movie, how could they not be? This biographical true story is well done and moving; it is a story about humanity and about great courage. It is NOT a feel-good movie. It is disturbing but, as one viewer said, "Kudos to Hallmark for bringing the heroic story of Sendler and Zegota (the organization to save Jewish people) to the American general public." Viewers also feel strongly that Irena Sendler should have received the Nobel Piece Prize.

  • Review by Variety called this film somewhat 'sanitized' because, of course, it is a Hallmark and a made-for-television production. However, they ALSO said that it is edgy and that it features a strong performance by Anna Paquin. They praised the set in Lat
  • Review by New York Times
    The New York Times review used the headline, "A Female Oskar Schindler of the Warsaw Ghetto." They went on to say that the movie is somewhat predictable. They agreed that Irena Sendler possessed a courageous heart but found the movie a bit weaker tha
  • From The Washington Post
    The Washington Post starts off by saying that seventy years later we are still being horrified by stories from the Holocaust and, occasionally, inspired. They called The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler 'masterfully done' and said that this invites

Is The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Suitable For Children?

This movie, as is the case with many made-for-television movies, is not rated.

A tough call, the story in this film could be okay for OLDER children who are learning about the treatment of the Jewish people during World War II, assuming that they are aware of the atrocities of that time period. Some say it is a reasonably good version of the real historical events. However, this movie does have emotionally intense scenes which will likely be upsetting to children and other sensitive viewers. Of particular note, is a lengthy scene with the Gestapo, which I found VERY DISTURBING. If you are unsure of whether or not you should share this movie with your children, it is a good candidate for previewing without your children present.

Read more on how to pick movies for children by clicking right here.

Could You Give YOUR Children Away If You Had To?

Some of the most heartwrenching scenes in this film are when a parent or parents were giving away their babies and children. To me it is unimaginable that anyone would have to do so for any reason. However, it happened. If you were Jewish and being held in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland during World War II, do you think you would have been able to give YOUR children away?

Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler is based on the 2005 authorized biography, Irena Sendler: Mother of the Children of the Holocaust by Anna Mieszkowska. I cannot personally vouch for this book at this time and unfortunately, it is no longer in print. Collectible copies are available from third parties and hopefully, I will find a copy of this hard-to-find book to read both to learn more about the "Mother of the Children of the Holocaust" and to see if it ties up a few loose ends from the movie. If you have read this book, make sure to let us all know what you think in the comment box at the end of the page.

More World War II History

  • Anne Frank Movie Reviews on DVD and Blu-ray
    Are you looking for a specific Anne Frank movie? The best Anne Frank movie? Then you have come to the right place for on this page you will find a great list of Anne Frank movies. If you are like me, you may be surprised at just how many Anne Frank..
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) Movie Review
    I read the book as a girl and since have been intrigued by Anne and her world. It was natural then that I'd want to see the movies. Here my review of the 1959 movie, The Diary of Anne Frank.
  • Our Visit To Anne Frank's House
    If you are contemplating a visit to Anne Frank's house during a trip to Amsterdam, I would highly recommend it. In the summer of 2009, my family had the opportunity to take a European cruise. We finished in Amsterdam and spent about a day and a half.

The End

In the movie and in real life, Irena Sendler kept meticulous records of who she placed each and every child with. However, at the end of the war when it was time to return the children to their parents, most of the families were gone...

© 2011 Treasures By Brenda

What do you think of Irena Sendler's story? The movie?

Ruthi on August 25, 2012:

I have not yet seen the movie of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler but shall in the near future.

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on February 08, 2012:

I haven't seen the movie yet. This woman and all those who helped her were doubt.

dawngibson lm on July 07, 2011:

It's a great film, but I wish there was more about what happened to the kids, especially Karolyna Rozenfeld.

sousababy on April 19, 2011:

Had to revisit this lens which I hope to feature soon on one of mine. I shall let you know on your Bio page asap. Sure hope it helps, you did a great job promoting this excellent movie. Take good care, Rose

GrowWear on March 17, 2011:

Will be watching this movie.Did not know there had been one made, but so glad to hear it. :)

tandemonimom lm on March 17, 2011:

This sounds like a fabulous movie! We'll have to watch it.

TapIn2U on March 17, 2011:

Now here is a woman everyone wants to be - beautiful inside and out and above all, courageous! I know only little information about Irena Sendler and thanks to this lens, I got to know her more. Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on March 17, 2011:

Wow, what an amazing woman. Despite its "dark" topic, I would really like to see this movie and read the book. Beautifully done, Brenda!

Joan4 on March 17, 2011:

Irena Sendler's story is fascinating! I cannot imagine being faced with the horrors of that time in history.

ChrisDay LM on March 16, 2011:

Amazing woman - I didn't know about this film. Thanks for a great lens, which I have featured on my 'Unsung heroes' lens, under Irena Sendler's entry. I hope that's OK?

Dianne Loomos on March 16, 2011:

I saw this movie a while back. It would be the hardest thing I ever did in my life, but if it meant my children would live, I hope that I would be brave enough to do it. It is certainly an atrocity that anyone would have to make that awful decision.

justholidays on March 16, 2011:

I always like to watch such movies and you really summarized the Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler the way that would have me take a step forward and, if not buy the movie at least rent it - I generally rent a movie then, if I love it, I buy my own. However, it seems that this WWII movie is based on a book but for once, I'd watch the movie before reading the book, which is rare and extremely great option! Thank you for having put this page together, it'll allow me to add a movie to my wishlist!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on March 16, 2011:

I had never heard of this lady before today. She sounds amazing.

MargoPArrowsmith on March 16, 2011:

Holocaust heroes are so important. I have lensrolled this to Oskar Schindler and Victor Frankl. As well as Born to Be Angelic because I have Angel Blessed this.

sousababy on March 16, 2011:

Lensrolled to my: Why the "Bad" in Society seem to be Winning, Challenging Conventional Thinking, Nerdy-chick disagrees with Stephen Hawking, Doing It Anyway / Bullies at WorkYou are doing something right, if people don't like you, Fat Quarters & Thin Dimes, Life Changing Quotes (that you never heard before), Barb Tarbox kept teens from smoking, Safe Water a Human Right and Women's Day is TODAY lenses. Also, I will mention this lens of yours to ChrisDay . . perhaps to be featured in his section devoted to Irena Sendler. Hope it helps! Rose

sousababy on March 16, 2011:

Oh my, she is an example of the human spirit at it's finest. Being a great human being has absolutely nothing to do with money made nor your 'title' in life. In fact, many hide behind those things. When it comes to life and death situations, you find out who the real heroes are (not often is it a politician, scholar or religious leader). They are, what others would call ordinary people, unsung heroes.

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