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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Prisoner of Her Past

By Joshua Knopp/entertainment editor

Nearly 70 years after the war, a survivor still feels  its effects
Nearly 70 years after the war, a survivor still feels
its effects
Reich, at left, looks at pictures of his grandparents with his uncle as he searches for answers to his mother’s condition. Reich’s maternal grandparents were killed in the Holocaust.  Photo courtesy Kartemquin Films
Reich, at left, looks at pictures of his grandparents with his uncle as he searches for answers to his mother’s condition. Reich’s maternal grandparents were killed in the Holocaust. Photo courtesy Kartemquin Films

The documentary recently shown on SE Campus was thought-provoking to say the least.

Prisoner of Her Past is based on the book The First and Last Nightmare of Sonia Reich A Son’s Memoir by Howard Reich. They both tell Howard Reich’s story of discovery in Ukraine, where his mother hid for years as a Holocaust fugitive. While Howard never complained about his mother’s tight lips on those years, she began to suffer in 2001 from what appeared to be acute dementia related to the Holocaust. Sonia, while attempting to smuggle food to detainees, had come under the impression that her 10-year-old neighbor was a guard who threatened to “put a bullet in her head.”

Sonia Reich was diagnosed with late-onset post traumatic stress disorder. The disorder is exactly what it sounds like ─ the PTSD so common among today’s returning soldiers but delayed in Sonia Reich’s case by 60 years of normal family life.

The documentary follows Howard as he attempts to dig deeper into his mother’s past and bring her closure. His quest leads him across the world.

He flies with his mother’s family to Dubno, Ukraine, where his mother spent her childhood. He is taken on a tour of the city, from the house she grew up in all the way to the ditches in which hundreds of Jews were murdered at a time.

This documentary, along with Howard’s book, is one of the first to bring late-onset post traumatic stress disorder to the public eye.

Reich walks between two mass graves on the outskirts of Dubno, Ukraine, with his family.  Photo courtesy Kartemquin Films
Reich walks between two mass graves on the outskirts of Dubno, Ukraine, with his family. Photo courtesy Kartemquin Films

Such a disorder could have dire implications for family life a few decades from now. Survivors of the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina could be emotional time-bombs who end up going off long after the trauma can no longer be resolved.

New early intervention techniques for childhood trauma are being implemented, and they mainly revolve around getting feelings out there. This disorder represents the metaphorical eruption of stored up emotions and is another important reason for people to release their feelings.

Prisoner of Her Past will air on PBS in April. It is also available on DVD.

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