GenreDrama, Fantasy, War Music directorFrederic Talgorn CountryUnited States
Release dateMarch 28, 1999 Based onThe Devils Arithmetic
by Jane Yolen WriterJane Yolen (novel), Robert J. Avrech (teleplay) CastKirsten Dunst (hannah), Brittany Murphy (Rivkah), Mimi Rogers (Leonore Stern), Leonardas Pobedonoscevas (Isaac), Mantas Vaitiek?nas (Vossel) Similar moviesFoxfire, The Fault in Our Stars, Death In Love, Very Bad Things, Marathon Man, Tetro
TaglineShe saw the truth with her own eyes.
The devil s arithmetic trailer
The Devil's Arithmetic is a 1999 TV movie based on the historical novel of the same name by Jane Yolen. It stars Kirsten Dunst as Hannah Stern and costars Brittany Murphy, Louise Fletcher, and Mimi Rogers. Dustin Hoffman introduces the film but is uncredited and serves as an executive producer with Mimi Rogers.
The film opens with Hannah, a teen girl, in a tattoo parlor with her friends, contemplating what tattoo she wants. Before she can decide, she notes the time and realizes she is late for a Passover dinner. Hannah hates going to her family seder as her family tells the same stories and Hannah is tired of hearing about the past. Her aunt tells her every year that Hannah looks like her namesake, Chaya, but won't tell Hannah who Chaya was or what she did. During the seder Hannah opens the front door to let in the prophet Elijah, but she sees a Polish village instead of the outside of the apartment. All of a sudden she is not only in a new place but also in the year 1941.
Hannah learns she is in the home of Rivka, who says she is Hannah (now Chaya)'s cousin, and her aunt Gitl. They tell Hannah she has been sick and that should explain her strange ramblings about the future. The next day, the family goes into the village for a wedding, which is interrupted by Nazi soldiers, who say the whole village will be resettled. After a long journey, they arrive at a Nazi concentration camp assumed to be Auschwitz. There, their valuables are stolen, their heads are shorn, they are tattooed, and they are made prisoners.
Life is brutal, but Hannah tells fairy tales and stories to the women in her bunk to keep their spirits up, and she insists that she knows what is coming because of her history classes in school, but no one will believe her. Tensions rise when a family is revealed to have typhus and when a woman goes into labor, some of the men attempt an escape when they find a guard they think they can trust, only to be caught and executed.
One day, the commandant notices that Rivka and other inmates are ill,he orders them to go to the gas chamber. Before he can see, Hannah switches places with Rivka. As she enters the gas chamber, she is transported back to the present day. As she rejoins her family at the dinner table, she notes that her aunt has Rivka's number tattooed on her arm, and she tells everyone the story about the Chaya who saved her aunt's life.
The film was shot in Vilnius, Lithuania in fall 1998 and a concentration camp set was built before shooting began and was designed to resemble Auschwitz.
Kirsten Dunst as Hannah Stern /Chaya Abramowicz
Brittany Murphy as Rivka
Paul Freeman as Rabbi
Mimi Rogers as Leonore Stern
Louise Fletcher as Aunt Eva
Daniel Brocklebank as Shmuel
Shelly Skandrani as Leah
Philip Rham as Commandant Krieger
Daniel Rausch as Sgt. Steinbach
The film received positive reviews and currently has an Audience Score of 65% on Rotten Tomatoes.