We are led slowly into the past. For an American audience, this is especially useful, as Sophie’s story is a trans-Atlantic one that takes place in both Europe and America. This deeply personal focus is another way in which this film differs from other miniseries. Part of the success of this focus comes from Meryl Streep’s performance. The film is virtually unimaginable without her presence. She manages to bring to life the central heroine. This deeply personal story of a woman and her choice sets this film apart from other miniseries.
One of the most striking aspects of the cinematography focusing on the Holocaust is that it is in black and white. The colour is sapped from this world. Sophie, whose lips are usually red, has virtually no colour in her face in these scenes. She is living in a nightmare of death and despair, from which there is no real exit. The filmmakers are very careful to create this sense of claustrophobia, and it is very effective. Rather than show huge acts of violence, the filmmakers are content to let much of this happen off screen.
The filmmakers also film a lot of scenes indoors, with Stingo, Nathan, and Sophie all very close together. This indicates how trapped each of them is in the worlds they have created for themselves. It is a curious and effective trick. Each of the choices that the characters make—when to act and how to act—have limited their lives in some way. The filmmakers communicate this by filming scenes indoors and in small rooms. There is also a theatrical element to the acting—especially Kevin Kline’s performance as Nathan. It is almost as if he is always on stage. This is an interesting choice in direction as it suggests that Nathan is a man who has dramatized himself. Perhaps he only wants to be with Sophie because of the sense of drama that she offers to him. Like