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Hallmark's The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Movie Review (Anna Paquin)

Updated on October 6, 2014
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

An Unforgettable True Story: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Hallmark

Irene Sendler worked at great personal risk to herself to save 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland and lived to tell her amazing story. Even though there is a book written about her efforts and now an extremely well-done made-for-television Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, she remains a little known hero.

On this page, learn a bit more about the 2009 Hallmark movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, which does a moving and fairly true job of sharing her story as it unfolded during a dark and particularly dreadful period in modern history.

Click here to order your copy of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler from Amazon.

The real Irena Sendler was nominated

for the Nobel Peace Price in 2007.

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Trailer With Behind The Scenes Footage

There is no typical movie trailer available for The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler but there is this one which shares footage as well as commentary from the making of the movie.

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Plot Summary of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Amazon calls Irena Sendler appropriately a remarkable and unlikely hero. I'd agree. During the Second World War, she lead a small group that worked diligently to save 2,500 Jewish children ONE CHILD AT A TIME.

Irena was a social worker, which granted her access to the Warsaw Ghetto and allowed her to formulate a plan and rescue these children. She gathered together a group of friends and coworkers to remove the children from the Ghetto and find them safe homes with Catholic families. She used any method that would work including but not limited to ambulances, suitcases and wheelbarrows.

The story comes to the conclusion that one might expect given the circumstances. In the movie as in real life, Ms. Sendler managed to keep her silence and that is where the movie ends. In real life, she survived the war years and lived a long life, claiming that what she had done during World War II was something she HAD to do and not something over which she had any choice. In 2007, she was nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Price. In 2008, Ms. Sendler died.

Fast Facts About The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

CAST: Anna Paquin, Goran Visnjic, Marcia Gay Harden, Michelle Dockery, Danuta Stenka, Rebecca Windheim, Sergei Marchenko, Paul Freeman and Leigh Lawson

WRITERS: Based on Irena Sendler's biography written by Anna Mieszkowska.

SCRIPT: John Kent Harrison and Lawrence John Spagnola



FILMED IN: Riga, Latvia because Warsaw was too modern in appearance.

AWARDS: Nominated for 6 and winner of 1 Golden Globe

RUNTIME: 95 minutes

RATING: Not rated

Amazon Customer Reviews of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Amazon customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this movie, how could they not be? This biographical true story is well done and moving; it is a story about humanity and about great courage. It is NOT a feel-good movie. It is disturbing but, as Amazon customer Tom said, "Kudos to Hallmark for bringing the heroic story of Sendler and Zegota (the organization to save Jewish people) to the American general public." Amazon customers also felt strongly that Irena Sendler should have received the Nobel Piece Prize.

To see all of the Amazon customer reviews, click right here.

Would YOU recommend The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler?

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Is The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler Suitable For Children?

This movie, as is the case with many made-for-television movies, is not rated.

A tough call, the story in this film could be okay for OLDER children who are learning about the treatment of the Jewish people during World War II, assuming that they are aware of the atrocities of that time period. Some say it is a reasonably good version of the real historical events. However, this movie does have emotionally intense scenes which will likely be upsetting to children and other sensitive viewers. Of particular note, is a lengthy scene with the Gestapo, which I found VERY DISTURBING. If you are unsure of whether or not you should share this movie with your children, it is a good candidate for previewing without your children present.

Read more on how to pick movies for children by clicking right here.

Could You Give YOUR Children Away If You Had To?

Some of the most heartwrenching scenes in this film are when a parent or parents were giving away their babies and children. To me it is unimaginable that anyone would have to do so for any reason. However, it happened. If you were Jewish and being held in the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland during World War II, do you think you would have been able to give YOUR children away?

Can you imagine giving YOUR children away?

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Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler is based on the 2005 authorized biography, Irena Sendler: Mother of the Children of the Holocaust by Anna Mieszkowska. I cannot personally vouch for this book at this time and unfortunately, it is no longer in print. Collectible copies are available from Amazon and eBay sellers and hopefully, I will find a copy of this hard-to-find book to read both to learn more about the "Mother of the Children of the Holocaust" and to see if it ties up a few loose ends from the movie. If you have read this book, make sure to let us all know what you think in the comment box at the end of the page.

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto - A children's version of the story written by by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto is a children's chapter book, recommended for children aged 9 to 12, that was written by Susan Goldman Rubin and illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. For children interested in the history of the time period, this may be a good choice. Once again I have not had the privilege of reading it and would love to hear from you if you have.

"There are two kinds of people:

good and bad. Nationality, race,

and religion do not play any role;

what is important is which

human you are."

~ Irena Sendler

The End

In the movie and in real life, Irena Sendler kept meticulous records of who she placed each and every child with. However, at the end of the war when it was time to return the children to their parents, most of the families were gone...

© 2011 Treasures By Brenda

What do you think of Irena Sendler's story? The movie?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have not yet seen the movie of The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler but shall in the near future.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      7 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I haven't seen the movie yet. This woman and all those who helped her were doubt.

    • dawngibson lm profile image

      dawngibson lm 

      8 years ago

      It's a great film, but I wish there was more about what happened to the kids, especially Karolyna Rozenfeld.

    • sousababy profile image


      8 years ago

      Had to revisit this lens which I hope to feature soon on one of mine. I shall let you know on your Bio page asap. Sure hope it helps, you did a great job promoting this excellent movie. Take good care, Rose

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Will be watching this movie.Did not know there had been one made, but so glad to hear it. :)

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      8 years ago

      This sounds like a fabulous movie! We'll have to watch it.

    • TapIn2U profile image


      8 years ago

      Now here is a woman everyone wants to be - beautiful inside and out and above all, courageous! I know only little information about Irena Sendler and thanks to this lens, I got to know her more. Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Wow, what an amazing woman. Despite its "dark" topic, I would really like to see this movie and read the book. Beautifully done, Brenda!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Irena Sendler's story is fascinating! I cannot imagine being faced with the horrors of that time in history.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      8 years ago

      Amazing woman - I didn't know about this film. Thanks for a great lens, which I have featured on my 'Unsung heroes' lens, under Irena Sendler's entry. I hope that's OK?

    • profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      8 years ago

      I saw this movie a while back. It would be the hardest thing I ever did in my life, but if it meant my children would live, I hope that I would be brave enough to do it. It is certainly an atrocity that anyone would have to make that awful decision.

    • justholidays profile image


      8 years ago

      I always like to watch such movies and you really summarized the Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler the way that would have me take a step forward and, if not buy the movie at least rent it - I generally rent a movie then, if I love it, I buy my own. However, it seems that this WWII movie is based on a book but for once, I'd watch the movie before reading the book, which is rare and extremely great option! Thank you for having put this page together, it'll allow me to add a movie to my wishlist!

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I had never heard of this lady before today. She sounds amazing.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      Holocaust heroes are so important. I have lensrolled this to Oskar Schindler and Victor Frankl. As well as Born to Be Angelic because I have Angel Blessed this.

    • sousababy profile image


      8 years ago

      Lensrolled to my: Why the "Bad" in Society seem to be Winning, Challenging Conventional Thinking, Nerdy-chick disagrees with Stephen Hawking, Doing It Anyway / Bullies at WorkYou are doing something right, if people don't like you, Fat Quarters & Thin Dimes, Life Changing Quotes (that you never heard before), Barb Tarbox kept teens from smoking, Safe Water a Human Right and Women's Day is TODAY lenses. Also, I will mention this lens of yours to ChrisDay . . perhaps to be featured in his section devoted to Irena Sendler. Hope it helps! Rose

    • sousababy profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh my, she is an example of the human spirit at it's finest. Being a great human being has absolutely nothing to do with money made nor your 'title' in life. In fact, many hide behind those things. When it comes to life and death situations, you find out who the real heroes are (not often is it a politician, scholar or religious leader). They are, what others would call ordinary people, unsung heroes.


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