Death Dreams of Mourning: The Making of Sophie’s Choice

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Release date: 2001
Directed by: Charles Kiselyak
Produced by: Pioneer Entertainment
Running time: 53 minutes

This 1997 documentary was featured on the British edition of the film's DVD. It included interviews with the director Alan J. Pakula, author William Styron, composer Marvin Hamlish and actors Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline and Peter MacNicol. While giving an insightful look on the film's making the documentary also includes background information on the Holocaust and features further interviews with author Aaron Hass, Michael Berenbaum, the president of the Shoah Visual History Museum and Holocaust survivors Ann Spicer and Silvia Grohs Martin.

Alan J. Pakula, William Styron, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Peter MacNicol, Marvin Hamlish, Aaron Hass, Michael Berenbaum, Ann Spicer, Silvia Grohs Martin.

“I think that people who go through a certain kind of horror become numb and have no feeling sometimes. And I think Nathan made her feel alive in the most horrific moments of their relationship. I think that whatever kept Sophie alive across that journey to get to Brooklyn, across Europe and over, there was hope in her. I just remember the end of my childhood when I was ten and my mother dropped me off to the library. I opened a book and there were photographs of the “Lebensborn” program where children were taken in transports, supposedly to be adopted. And one of these transports just ran out of gas and the drivers walked away and left these children who died… the piled up bodies on the truck. I will never ever forget that image. It forms the basis of my emotional understanding of unimaginable horror”.

“I couldn’t even read that scene – the scene of the “choice”. I read it once when we got the script and I never read it again because I couldn’t stand it. And I think I didn’t do that because I was “Sophie”, I knew it was coming, I knew it was back there, as “Sophie”, and it was something I never wanted to look at. It was all these images that we’ve seen in still black and white pictures but to be living it and walking it and caring the child, it was terrifying. It was proposterous… I thought I was screaming, as loud as I could, it was like being in a dream. You realize that no sound is coming out later but you really think you’re screaming. The story is awful but the filming of it, because it was so deeply understood by all of us making it, was great. You know, not repeatable”.