Jakob is a former Communist teacher, but he was relieved of his position when he began dissenting from the Communist ideals. After talking about Jesus at a friend’s funeral, he and several others of various Christian sects are rounded up and locked in a Communist dungeon to be starved and psychologically tortured into submission to the Communist rule. However, Jakob leans on God for strength and helps the men he is locked up with to find common ground and faith in God, even in the darkest times.
Production Quality (1.5 points)
Under Jakob’s Ladder is a mostly under-funded independent project, so its collection of production errors is understandable. For one, the opening sequence is unusually produced with several disorienting features. Also, there is some poor lighting throughout, and the sets and locations are severely limited. However, there are some attempts at realistic and historical props, and the soundtrack is good throughout. Moreover, the use of black and white flashbacks is a bit off, as is the unnecessary use of slow motion. Editing could use a little work as well, but there is some improvement throughout the film that is enough to make this production average.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
From the beginning and on into the movie until the end, there is annoying and echoing narration that forces the plot along in completely unnecessary fashion. Regardless of this, however, this is a very intriguing true story that could have been a true war epic had it been presented in a different way. Despite some of the odd flashbacks, some of them are normal and very good at providing insight into character motives. However, there are a lot of meandering ideas in this film that do not come to full fruition, such as the creative chess themes. There are also some parts that are too dramatic, and the plot overall needs better organization and focus, as well as better character development through deeper dialogue. Moreover, the ending is very interesting and thought-provoking; it could have been even more impactful if the leadup was more palatable. Unfortunately, while this story had a lot going for it, there was a lot of potential wasted here.
Acting Quality (1.5 points)
While this film’s creators were definitely putting effort into the realistic costuming, the obviously unnatural accents need a bit of refinement. There is definitely a lot of potential in this cast as their performances demonstrate effort and care, even if some cast members can be too drab and underwhelming at times. Nevertheless, their performances are enough to make this section average.
The idea behind Under Jakob’s Ladder is definitely worth a remake. Though this film was not funded as well as it could have been, this strong plot idea could have come through a bit better than it did. This was a character-based plot, so we needed deep characters with strong motives and back stories, which we almost got. Unfortunately, this rendition fell short of high marks. Perhaps one day we will see a new version created.
Final Rating: 3.5 out of 10 points