By: Christina Buck "An absolutely fascinating journey of discovery that’s both heart warming and heart wrenching at the same time." —Row Three Prisoner of Her Past: The Sonia Reich Story Directed By: Gordon Quinn
Overview Prisoner of Her Past tells the chilling story of Sonia Reich. A then 79 year old women with late onset Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The disorder causes childhood trauma she experienced to resurface, sixty years later. Sonia begins to unravel the life she had during the Holocaust. The film follows her son, Howard Reich, as he travels around the United States and Eastern Europe to uncover why his mother believes the world is conspiring to kill her. Along the way, he finds out about the traumatic past of his mother and those closest to her. .
When it comes time for a filmmaker to put together a piece one of the biggest challenges is finding the right way to do so that it leaves a lasting impression. Prisoner of her past uses story telling to bring to light the effects of late onset PTSD. Bringing together the history of many survivors to learn about one persons future allows for the filmmaker to look at the specific from a broader view point. Taking the topic such as the Holocaust and looking at it from the viewpoint of someone suffering from a mental disorder is very effective. People have heard personal stories of Holocaust survivors but by piecing together a story from bits of the stories of others who experienced the same thing is creative. It allows for the audience to look at the past events in a different way from different people while still staying connected at a central point.
- Using the varying footage from in Sonya's room and when Howard is in Dubno is very effective. The audience is able to see what is left and to put the events that Sonia is reliving in the location where it originally happened.
Looking at specific scenes from the film one that sticks out is when the women took Howard and Leon back to a place where many Jewish people had been killed. Olga, the woman who takes them there, begins to cry and this scene allows for the viewer to see how these events left a shadow of the places where it happened and the people who experienced it. Also looking at any of the scene with Sonia in her room and her mannerism with the pumpernickel bread or how she interacts with Howard or even when the camera man is there. The scenes where we see her interacting with people while she is talking about the Holocaust allow the audience to understand more how the disorder has effected her.
-The director of the film wanted the audience to acknowledge that while the Holocaust may be over people are still experiencing it everyday.
-Specifically looking at Sonia's story the director wanted to show how surviving the Holocaust effected someone directly. Sonia's story shows what events like the Holocaust while over continue to effect victims lives on a daily basis.
-While seeing how Sonia is living with her disorder, late onset PTSD, the director is able to portray how reliving a traumatic past changes your life. While doing so the filmmaker is able to show how others like Sonia are going through this and need the support from friends and family. Maybe not to be able to understand but to listen and just maybe see a closer look into how they past has shaped their present.
- The central message of the film also looks at how the relationship between parents and their children. The film shows how the relationship between Sonia and her children has been shaped. When a parents suffers from a disorder in which they are reliving their past changes the normal parent child dynamic.
I think that the filmmaker wanted the audience to take a familiar topic and understand it from a different point of view. I think that like many filmmakers they wanted the audience to have an open mind and not go into it with the same view as they would with similar films. I feel that they wanted the audience to take it in for what it was not just another documentary.
Prisoner of Her Past looks at the life of someone who is living in a different time. I think that truth is more than place, culture, and time while dependent that does make anything less real. I do not think a time and a place make something truth or not but considering the time and the place I think is what makes it real. Through the film seeing where events in Sonia’s life took place made it very real. As a viewer you are able to piece things together at a certain time during a certain year which I think made the film unique.
-What made this film unique was that the writer and also one of the producers of the film was Sonia Reich's son, Howard Reich. Howard also served as the narrator of the film. Having a personal relationship with Sonia I feel added to the film and acknowledged that there are families like Sonia's who are dealing with similar cases.
-The film also introduces films people who knew Sonia during the Holocaust who help to piece together Sonia's past.
- During the film there are also various other friends and family members of Sonia who were able to give information about who Sonia was when she was little and running during the Holocaust.
-This was a very well put together film and I enjoyed being about to look closely at someone who has late on set PTSD. Being able to see how reliving your past like its happening now with the same feelings and emotions is unthinkable While the Holocaust ended so many years ago for Sonia and others like her its not its occurring in her head and its real for her.
- I also feel like this film can help other people who may not know that their relatives are suffering from this same disorder. This film makes people aware of what life is like now and the lasting effects the Holocaust had.
-After seeing the film I am curious about how this same disorder and similar ones that continue to effect survivors like Sonia.
After being able to see a small portion of Sonia Reich’s life the parallel between Holocaust victims and their past lives shows the shadow that these events have left. It can be concluded that thought events may be long gone there effects are everlasting. Looking at current events today something can be learned about not letting history repeat itself. Sonia and the people like her are lucky to have survived such horrific experiences but seeing how now she must relieve them everyday is eye opening. The parallels are great between the effects that traumatic experiences and the lasting effects they have. Today’s society should look at survivors and see there stories as lessons to learn about strength and courage.