Sophie's Choice


D: Alan J. Pakula

ITC (Alan J. Pakula & Keith Barish)

US 1982

157 mins


W: Alan J. Pakula [based on the novel by William Styron]

DP: Nestor Almendros

Ed: Evan Lottman

Mus: Marvin Hamlisch

PD: George Jenkins

Cos: Albert Wolsky

Meryl Streep (Sophie Zawistowska), Kevin Kline (Nathan Landau), Peter MacNicol (Stingo)

It's not a great surprise that Meryl Streep won an Oscar for her performance in this film. It's not just the greatest performance of her career, it's amongst the most powerful acting performances in cinema history. 

She perfected both Polish and German accents for her portrayal as Sophie Zawistowska, a survivor of the holocaust who, following the end of World War II moved to Brooklyn where she shares a house with hot-headed American Jew Nathan Landau and Southern writer Stingo, where they become a circle of friends.

Sophie's experiences of World War II are presented via flashback, revealing that she was married to a resistance leader prior to her arrest and her and her young children were located to a concentration camp where she would become a secretary for a high-ranking German official.

Sophie's relationship with Nathan becomes strained due to his jealousy and she gets closer to Stingo, to whom she reveals her biggest secret about her past.

If you know what Sophie's Choice is really about, then it will have a small effect on the film's most memorable scene, though it remains emotionally powerful even so.

Meryl Streep is perfect, while Kevin Kline overacts wildly and Peter MacNicol isn't really given enough to do to really flex a good performance out of the role.

A truly memorable drama which will certainly scar the memory of those who have seen it.


Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice
Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice