THOSE WHO SAVE US, the movie

Last week Andy (my boyfriend) and I went to see THE BOY IN STRIPED PAJAMAS at the Kendall, an art house movie theater in Cambridge, across the river from us in Boston.  I can usually lure Andy to see whatever I want at the Kendall because they have great popcorn salt of many different flavors, including barbecue, with the result that both of us ingest more salt than popcorn and have to have drinks when we come out. All in all, it’s a good evening.

THE BOY IN STRIPED PAJAMAS needed no extra salt.  I’d read the book as soon as it came out and liked it very much…but I loved the movie.  It was like being in a child’s dream of the Holocaust, with all the repetition and sinister undertones that entails.  And the ending, which I had not prepared poor Andy for, required that we sit silently in the theater until  the lights came up.  Even then, we didn’t talk (and those of you who know me know how unusual this is).  Andy dropped a kiss on my hair, just one, and I thought that this moment would stand for me when I am an old lady as a symbol of being understood, and of tenderness.

Now Bernhard Schlink’s THE READER is coming out, starring Kate Winslet.  During the trailer, there was a shot of Ms Winslet, who plays a German woman, in the bath, and I had the oddest deja-vu–because I would love for Kate Winslet to play the young Anna in the movie version of THOSE WHO SAVE US.  With her beautiful, soft, strong European-looking face, Kate is the closest thing we’ve got to Ingrid Bergman these days (she would have been my original pick, but sadly, she is not available).

I am heartened by the emergence of not one but two Holocaust-era movies during this moviegoers’ season, and I wonder if it is because, inconceivable as it is to me, there will come a day not long from now when books and movies are what we have left of survivors?  This seems remarkably unfair, that people who survived the Holocaust should not get a free pass to live forever.  But their legacy and stories, through art in various forms, will live on

Perhaps this is partly what the movie versions of such good Holocaust-era books signify, that the time still grips the contemporary imagination, and it always will.

So.  I am hopeful about the movie version of THOSE WHO SAVE US, enough that I recently stalked Alec Baldwin at a bookstore signing because I want him to play the Obersturmfuhrer. (My essay about the subsequent humiliation will be featured in the Boston Globe’s Sunday magazine on Dec. 14th.)  Who would you cast?  And do you know filmmakers who wants to  make a great Holocaust-era movie?   Send ’em my way.

36 Responses to THOSE WHO SAVE US, the movie

  1. Jenna I wrote to you a few years ago when I read your book and I remember telling you that you book would make an awsome movie, I hope to come to be.Yes Alec Baldwin would be very good.

  2. Hi Jenna! I’m 23 and have just started reading your book and can’t put it down! Having read lots of stories about the Holocaust, both fiction and non-fiction, it is always refreshing to find a book looking at the Holocaust from a different perspective! This is definitely a movie I would to see. I can’t wait to finish the book!

    • Thank you so much, Katherine! I’m a little late to the response party so I trust you’ve finished THOSE WHO SAVE US by now. I hope you liked the end of the novel as much as the rest of it. Dankeschoen for reading & for being willing to buy a ticket to the movie! 🙂

    • Thank you for letting me know you read THOSE WHO SAVE US, Katherine–and for reading it in the first place! Since I’m a little late in responding to your lovely message, I trust you’ve finished the novel by now, and I hope you found it compelling all the way through. I’m wishing you continued enthralling reading! x Jenna.

  3. Hi Jenna,

    I have indeed finished your book and have told my cousins to read it. It’s been about 2 months since I’ve finished your book and just thinking about it makes me want to read it again. I am going to find another of your books! Love from a South African fan xx

    • Blessings, Katherine! I am honored you read my book and delighted you’re recommending it–also so glad to know it made it all the way to the other side of the world! Happy reading and New Year to you. xo, Jenna.

  4. Recently received Those Who Save Us as a Christmas gift. Have now finished reading it and want to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. Interestingly enough I am now embarking on The Book Thief another book set in Germany during WW2 and also involving a young girl. Can already see similarities between the two books and feel that both will go on my list of favourites. Look forward to your next book.

    • Dear Carol,

      Thank you so much for reading THOSE WHO SAVE US and for writing to me about it! THE BOOK THIEF is now a feature film, and THOSE WHO SAVE US is under option to become one. I wrote the screenplay this past year and am keeping my fingers crossed.

      As you were so kind as to mention my next book: my second novel is THE STORMCHASERS, and it’s available on Amazon, via this website–& wherever books are sold!

      My newest work, a novella called “the lucky one,” will be published in a WW2 anthology called GRAND CENTRAL in July 2014. Please stay tuned for the latest information!

      Happy reading,

  5. HI JENNA!!! Just want to say that I LOVE THIS BOOK! I am only on page 118 and I love it!! I am already having the huge depression of: Oh NO! It WILL Have To End One of These Days.

    I do not want it to end. I find myself loving Anna so much. I am inspired by her! I HOPE THAT IT BECOMES A MOVIE!!! Is that a for sure thing? And I just want to say THANK YOU…..THANK YOU with all my heart for giving the world this book. As a mom of 2 small kids my only break comes for ME time at the end of exhausting days when all is quiet and there is NOWHERE I would rather be than curled up under my lux throw with your book. I am already telling everyone I know to go buy it. : )

    • Dear Suzy,

      Thank you SO MUCH for your lovely message. I completely understand how you feel–well, not completely, since I don’t have two small kids. But if I don’t get time to read every day, I get….cranky, and you would not like Writer Hulk when she is cranky! I read myself to sleep just about every night, and since childhood it has been a favorite time of my day. I’m honored THOSE WHO SAVE US was your chosen material.

      The book is under option to become a feature film and I’ve turned the screenplay over to my producer–that’s all I know at this point. Fingers crossed! Stay tuned!

      And happy reading,

  6. Hi Jenna! I’m a big fan of your book. As I was reading it, I thought it would make a brilliant movie! I was actually curious about the status of your movie plans. Has it started production? Is there a cast? I’m an aspiring actress and would love to get some info. I frequently picture myself playing a young Anna. Anyway best wishes!

    • Hi, Erica! Thank you so much for your kind comments about THOSE WHO SAVE US. The book is under option and I’ve turned in the screenplay; my producer is in the process of casting. That’s all I know as the writer/ screenwriter! I wish I could give you more information, but stay tuned–as I get it, I’ll share it. And I wish you only good luck in your acting career!


  7. Those Who Save Us is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. The characters are so richly drawn that I feel I know them. I cried each time I read it. The way the Pfeffer character ties the mystery together and helps Trudie heal, is so moving. I think Anna will have a relationship with Pfeffer, which will help her heal and enjoy the last years of her life. I read the book three times, the last time recommending it for my book group. Can’t wait to discuss it with them. Some feelings about the movie..I can’t wait for that. It can be an exceptional movie if it stays true to the book and NOT Hollywood. The Oberstumfuhrer was not handsome, so I can’t imagine why you would want to cast Alec Baldwin. I think lesser-known actors would be a better choice. In my opinion, great acting makes a great movie, not star power. No matter who you decide to cast, I will see it anyway. It’s great that you, the author, are writing the screenplay.

    • Dear Debbie,

      Thank you so much for your wonderful, thoughtful comments about THOSE WHO SAVE US. I’m thrilled you recommended it to your book group and hope they’re compelled by it (“enjoy” never seems quite the right word for this novel). You might be happy to know Alec has aged out of the Obersturmfuhrer’s role, so we were thinking Jon Hamm….and you know, the O is almost handsome except for that doughy jawline of his, so Mr. Hamm would just have to eat a lot of pastries.

      Please stay tuned and I will keep you updated!

      Happy reading,

      • Hi Jenna,
        Thank you so much for answering my post! Oh well, I guess you are committed to choosing a handsome actor to play the notorious Nazi! I have such a vivid picture in my mind of what he looks like. Funny…I never got the “almost handsome” image, but maybe I missed something. I’ll go back into the book and look for it. I think Alan Cumming would be absolutely wonderful as Pfeffer!..What do you think? Now that I think of it, a handsome actor could still play an un-handsome, over-weight Nazi. I’m remembering Ralph Fiennes in “Schindler’s List.” I’m trying to envision the women, but can’t think of anyone as yet. Thanks again for responding Jenna, and please keep me posted. I love the book so much!

        Debbie Kane Raymar

        • Thank you, Debbie! I will definitely keep you posted. My producer is hoping to find a European actress to play Anna, much the way a search was conducted for the actress to play Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. Alec B might have aged out of the role of Obersturmfuhrer, alas. I just saw Alec last night in “Ghosts of Mississippi” when he was young and wolfy, and he would have been perfect! But hopefully we’ll find actors who are just right for all the parts.

          Happy reading!


          • Hi Jenna,,

            Thank you so much for responding. I think it’s a great idea to find someone unknown and European to play Anna! What do you think of my idea about Alan Cumming as Pfeffer?

    • Thank you so much, Ann! From your mouth to God’s ears, as they say. I’m honored you loved THOSE WHO SAVE US.


  8. Hi, I just started reading your book and I love it. I can’t even put it down. It keeps me busy while I’m not reading. I’m a Dutch woman and I was wondering about a movie about your book. There’s a Dutch actress who speaks perfect German, who I would love to see as Anna. Her name is: Carice van Houten. She played in many movies already (Like: Black book) and in the U.S. you could know her from the tv-series Game of Thrones. It’s just a reconmandation. I would love to see the movie if it comes out. Keep on writing, Jenna.

    Greeting from a Dutch fan

    • Dear Lisa,

      Thank you so much for writing to me about THOSE WHO SAVE US. I’m delighted and honored you are reading the novel and it is keeping you good company–even when you are not actually reading it! 🙂 Thank you too for the suggestion of Carice van Houten to play Anna. My producer for the THOSE WHO SAVE US movie is always looking for excellent casting ideas for when she gets to that stage, which we all hope will be very soon. Please stay tuned for more updates!

      And happy reading to you meanwhile.

      Jenna. XXX

  9. P.S. Jenna, I hope you find these actors soon! I can’t wait to see the movie. I’m wondering where it will be filmed.

    • Thank you! The movie would be filmed on location in Europe and then probably in Canada for the Minnesota sections, since parts of Canada look very much like southeastern MN–and the tax incentives for moviemakers are better.

      I like your idea of Mr. Cummings for Pfeffer very much, though my first choice personally is Mr. Ben Kingsley.

      Much fun to cast! Keep ’em coming–the suggestions and the enthusiasm. 🙂

      Jenna. xo

  10. Hello Ms. Blum,

    Read both of your books. Those Who Save Us is my second favorite book ever and please accept that as the biggest of compliments. My favorite is I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. Probably 75% of what I’ve read is historical fiction and so yours is the best as far as that goes. So many things I’d like to tell you about the novel you wrote. I immediately believed it would make a fantastic film in the right hands. At the time that I read it, which was about five years ago now, Kate Winslet was in my head. She now is perhaps too old, and after her stunning portrayal of Hanna Schmidt in The Reader film ( another book that I loved, but not as much as yours) it probably wouldn’t interest her anyhow. I think unknown would work, or perhaps Michelle Williams or Carey Mulligan, both who have the acting chops and range to tackle what should ultimately be an Oscar worthy performance. In the present day, Anna could be played by Hellen Mirren I think, but there is no short supply of women of a certain age that could do wonders with this. I will continue to keep my fingers crossed that the movie will end up in the right hands eventually. Better to wait and be happy than to rush things right? Looking forward to your next book!

    • Dear Chris,

      Thank you so much for reading both of my novels and for your wonderfully kind comments about THOSE WHO SAVE US. It may interest you to know that this April, at the Newburyport, MA Literary Festival, I’ll be on a panel with Mr. Wally Lamb! I’ll be happy to pass on your generous comments to him as well.

      “From your mouth to God’s ears,” as the saying goes, re: the movie version of THOSE WHO SAVE US. I wrote the screenplay in 2013, and my producer has it now. We always welcome casting suggestions as she goes about putting the movie together! Like you, I imagined Kate Winslet in the role of the young Anna; last night I watched “Casablanca,” and I understood why: Kate is the closest we have to Ingrid Bergman. In my mind, Ingrid Bergman is the ideal Anna. It’s a shame she’s not available!

      I will definitely keep you posted via the website (and on Facebook and Twitter–I am ubiquitous! 🙂 as to what happens with the movie. I’m so grateful for your interest.

      Oh–and if I may be permitted a small advertisement–don’t forget to look for GRAND CENTRAL in July, 2014; it’s an anthology of novellas by bestselling WW2-era authors (myself included) that are all set in Grand Central Terminal on the same day in 1945. My novella is called “the lucky one,” and I’m in love with it, and I hope you will fall in love with it, too.


  11. Hi Jenna! I wrote to you a couple years ago about your book and how much LOVED IT! I was 16 or 15 then?? I am 20 now and I still love your book and have read it a billion times. From time to time I will go on Google and search your book to see if it will be made into a movie, and I’m so excited it might happen!!

    • Dear Yessica–I love your name, by the way!–

      Thank you so much for being such an avid and longtime fan of THOSE WHO SAVE US. I’m honored you’ve read the novel over and over; I do that with my favorite books, too! I’ll be sure to keep you posted about progress with the movie version. My fingers are crossed as tightly as yours are. All casting suggestions welcome! 🙂

      Have a terrific day with lots of good reading in it.


      PS–I almost forgot–my new WW2-era novella “the lucky one” will be out in an anthology called GRAND CENTRAL, coming your way this June from Penguin!

  12. I was fortunate to find your book in a nicely furnished condo in Hawaii on vacation last week. Your book was impossible to put down. My poor husband…when I finally finished, I said it was the best book I’ve ever read. He asked me to tell him about it, and I burst into tears. I was still too emotionally raw to put into words what your words in that book did to me. Thank you for such a beautiful book.

    • Wow. Mandi, this is a truly moving email for me to read! I’m so glad THOSE WHO SAVE US was awaiting you in Hawaii, even if it helped ale your vacation (and your husband’s) a little more emotional than you both might have thought. I am deeply touched by your saying the novel is the best book you’ve ever read. What an honor. Thank you!


  13. Hi Jenny. I’m from the Philippines. I got a copy of your book from a booksale store and you nailed it! It’s always gratifying to know lessons learned from the past.

    • Thank you so much! I’m delighted to hear my book has traveled so far and come into such a lovely reader’s hands. I’m honored by your comments.

      Happy reading to you!

      xo Jenna.

  14. I just finished THOSE WHO SAVE US. What a wonderful, moving book. I also enjoyed THE STORMCHASERS. What a wonderful gift you have. Both books would make exceptional movies. I love historical fiction and am anxiously awaiting your next work.

    • Thank you so much, Kim! What wonderfully generous comments. Since you appreciate historical fiction, may I recommend GRAND CENTRAL, which is a post-WW2 anthology of stories all set in Grand Central Terminal on the same day in September, 1945–in which my latest work, a novella called “The Lucky One,” appears.

      I–we, the writers of GRAND CENTRAL–hope you enjoy it!

      Thank you so much for reading!


    • Lauren, great minds! I thought the same thing when I was writing Trudy’s sections. Jodie Foster would be ideal. My producer and I have also talked about Diane Lane (a personal favorite), Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts, Charlize Theron….

      All suggestions for all characters welcome! Thank you for playing the casting game with me. And, of course, for reading THOSE WHO SAVE US–three times!


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