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YMMV / The Devil's Arithmetic

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  • Anvilicious: The film changes a lot of Hannah's simple naivety about her heritage into making her an ignorant teenager. For example she draws numbers on her arms in the book to look like her grandfather, simply not realizing what it means. This is changed in the film to her trying to get a tattoo - just so she can go on about her stupidity and ignorance later. Overall it gives the impression that modern teenagers should be punished for not knowing about the horrors of the Holocaust.
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  • Faux Symbolism: At the start of the film, Hannah is about to get a tattoo but is stopped because she is late for dinner. As well as being a foreshadowing of the concentration camp tattoos the Jews are forced to get, it also indicates Hannah's lack of enthusiasm for Judaism—traditionally Jews are forbidden to get tattoos.
  • Fridge Horror: One thing that neither the book nor the movie addresses is the fact that at the end of the story, Hannah is, in essence, a Holocaust survivor. Many people suffered lifelong trauma from that experience. What's worse is that for Hannah, getting help is likely to be difficult if not impossible because no one's going to believe that someone Hannah's age actually experienced the Holocaust. Given the way it happened, the possibility exists that she won't remember the experience clearly enough to be traumatized (her Identity Amnesia in the book lends credence to this possibility), but this is never confirmed.
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  • Harsher in Hindsight: Hannah sacrifices herself to save Rivka from the gas chambers. Brittany Murphy died in 2009 while Kirsten Dunst is still alive. What's more is that Brittany was found dead in a bathroom.
  • Narm: Some of Kirsten Dunst's reactions when Hannah is first transported to the past - particularly her flat delivery of "will you repeat what you just said?" - though thankfully she gets much better as the movie goes on.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The WHAM Shot of little Sarah walking away from the wedding only to find Nazi wagons approaching. It's at this point that the audience realises just what is about to happen to all the Jews - Hannah included.
    • During the ride in the cattle car, a pregnant lady realises that she must make herself look smaller and she spends the entirety of her time in the film trying to hide her pregnancy.
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    • The women being forced to strip as they enter the camp is quite frightening, due to the scary attitude of the guards.
    • Hannah's realisation that the escape attempt won't work and the men are doomed to fail - as they don't listen to her anyway.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Shmuel is played by Daniel Brocklebank, who would become a regular on Coronation Street.
  • She Really Can Act: Brittany Murphy was always heavily associated with romantic comedies that were light and unchallenging. Fans often pointed to this to show that she could do an against type role in a different genre.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The purpose of the time travel plot - to educate modern children and teenagers about the Holocaust.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • As the Jews are getting dragged off the cattle car, you see Leah and Shmuel clutching onto each other. It's the last time they'll ever get to be together. There's also something very tragic about Leah still wearing her wedding dress as she's taken to the camp.
    • Rivka's mother being taken away. It's one of the few times Rivka breaks, and she screams desperately as it happens.
    • Hannah's eventual death in the gas chambers, along with Sarah. Throughout the whole thing she hugs the little girl tightly, trying to make sure she's not scared.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: While the film tones down some of the more graphic elements of the book, it is still very horrifying and distressing what happens. Dustin Hoffman (who acted as producer) even remarked that his daughter would probably be hurt by seeing it, but said "I guess it's the good kind of hurt".


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