During the harrows of WWII, Jo, a young shepherd boy, smuggles Jewish children across the border from southern France into Spain.
Waiting for Anya has little to do with Anya, but everything to do with bravery, selflessness, and the sanctity of human life.
Often, history books covering WWII include gruesome pictures of Holocaust prison camps, survivors, etc., but rarely do they speak to the quieter European sectors that weren’t burned down or blown to bits by the Germans. Waiting for Anya fills in the gaps of these missing towns, and the unknown heroes who lived there.
Jo, a young shepherd boy, lives in a quiet little French town occupied by the Germans. Like most townspeople, he has learned to lay low and not cause trouble, but when he bumps into a Jewish man named Benjamin, his life changes forever.
Benjamin helped his daughter, Anya, escape when Jews were first being removed from their homes, but she was supposed to meet Benjamin back in Jo’s small town after the war died down. He was there to wait for Anya–risking his own life while German soldiers still patrolled the area. In addition, Benjamin was helping a small group of villagers transport Jewish children across the Spanish border, where they would be safe from the Germans.
Inspired, Jo starts sneaking food from the town market and bringing it back to the Jewish children. After his family learns of his secret, they band together–with the help of the church–to distract the German soldiers and help the children make it to Spain.
The Germans slowly catch on, but you have to watch the movie to see if the townspeople’s plan works–and if Anya ever returns.
The violence in this film is more gut-wrenching than gory. German soldiers shoot one of Jo’s friends, a teenage boy with special needs. Jo’s father, who was abused by the German soldiers, gets drunk and slaps Jo onto the ground because Jo has befriended a German soldier named Korporal. However, the relationship between Jo and Korporal is one of the cornerstone pieces of this film.
Korporal’s daughter is caught in the crossfires of the war and killed, which nearly destroys him. Meanwhile, this tragedy softens his heart to the French townspeople. Jo and Korporal bond over their love for eagle watching, and Korporal grows to respect Jo and his friend with special needs. Korporal doesn’t want to be a “bad guy,” and Jo doesn’t see him that way, either. This relationship causes viewers to think about the sweeping generalizations that dictate our judgment–and how wrong those often can be. Their relationship stresses trust and forgiveness and understanding, unparalleled to the war surrounding them.
References to the Bible are scattered throughout the script, but the biggest spiritual impact of the film is when the town’s local pastor helps craft a plan to host a musical at the church to distract the Germans while the Jewish children escape. The pastor and countless church members risk their lives to save only seven children, solidifying Scripture’s greatest command to love God and others above oneself.
Waiting for Anya includes mild language, particularly racial slurs, and the tension of war, but the proud themes of bravery, selflessness, and the sanctity of life award this film Dove-approval for Ages 12+.
The Dove Take:
Waiting for Anya showcases the unsung heroes of WWII who were willing to risk their own safety for the sanctity of human life.