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Irena’s Vow – Value of One Life

Coming to theaters on April 15th and 16th through Fathom Events, Irena’s Vow both inspires and calls to action. Click here for more information on how to see the film.

As the Nazis invade Poland in 1939, Irena Gut (Sophie Nélisse) finds herself herded, together with some of her fellow Catholics, straight from Mass into forced labor at a munitions factory. Not possessing the physical strength necessary, after a year she becomes a kitchen maid at the officer’s club. Her side task is managing the Jews who work in the club’s laundry and tailoring. Herr Schultz (Andrezej Seweryn), another worker, schools her on how to survive.

A frequent visitor to the club, SS-officer Rokita (Maciej Nawrocki) gives off nasty vibes but it’s when Irena witnesses a horror he carries out in the streets that she vows that if she can save a life, she will.

At the officer’s club, she’s noticed by Major Rugmer (Dougray Scott) and when Herr Major moves to a confiscated villa on the edge of town, she becomes his personal housekeeper. Unbeknownst to him, she smuggles the Jewish laundry workers into the cellar of his home and insists that the Major not bring in any soldiers to help her with the housekeeping and frequent dinner parties he hosts. Impressed by her efficiency, the Major agrees. Little does he know that Irena has a whole group of unseen helpers.


Dougrayy Scott at Rugmer and Sophie Nélisse as Irena in “Irena’s Vow.”  © 2024 Quiver Distribution. All Rights Reserved.


Even though Irena does her best to keep the house guests concealed, rumors of the hidden Jews begin to circulate, especially when Ida (Eliza Rycembel), one of the married women, becomes pregnant. When the Major comes home early one day while Irena and some of the women are cleaning, he discovers the truth and Irena is forced to become Rugmer’s mistress to save them and herself.


Sophie Nélisse as Irena in “Irena’s Vow.”  © 2024 Quiver Distribution. All Rights Reserved.


Based on the true story of Irena Gut Opdyke, Irena’s Vow testifies to the value of one human life and the sacrifices worth making in order to protect that life and others. Try to imagine the constant anxiety Irena experienced every time there was a party at Rugmer’s home. When Ida (Eliza Rycembel) becomes pregnant, the doctor among the Jews she was hiding asks her to get the supplies necessary for him to perform an abortion. As a Catholic, she refuses, instead rejoicing in the new life. Her plea that they do not do the abortion is one of the most beautiful defenses of the unborn in recent films.


Sophie Nélisse and cast in “Irena’s Vow.”  © 2024 Quiver Distribution. All Rights Reserved.


Please be sure to stay through the credits to discover what happened to some of the characters in the story. Be especially on the watch for how Ida and her husband, Lazar (Aleksandar Milicevic), and their son, welcomed a destitute Major Rugmer into their home after the war.

Besides being a truly stirring story, the film’s timeliness cannot be understated. In a time when our society is experiencing serious polarization, Irena’s Vow is a stark reminder that, despite our differences, sacrificing for the sake of others is a noble action that even the humblest of us can do.


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