HBO Films


June 22 on HBO Signature


Adapted by the distinguished actor-playwright Antony Sher from the seminal memoir of Holocaust survivor Primo Levi (1919-1987), Primo is a one-man drama with a world of meaning beyond its deceptively simple format. In quiet but unsparing language, Primo Levi (played by Sher in a tour de force solo performance) narrates the story of how he, an Italian-Jewish chemist, was captured by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz.

"Concentration camp life" proves a contradiction in terms, as Primo and the other prisoners are systematically stripped of possessions, identity and pride; and fed the barest minimum possible so they can work at forced labor in freezing temperatures. Primo forms a close bond with fellow chemist Alberto, and treasures the few moments of humanity and hope the two are able to find in this living hell. Still, even as they survive, the specter of being selected for extermination always hangs over the prisoners. With his narrative, Primo offers a rare glimpse into the last days before the liberation of the camp by Russian soldiers, in the wake of the Nazis' retreat.

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