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Number the Stars is an upcoming American animated historical drama film based on the 1989 novel of the same name. This film is about the escape of a Jewish family from Copenhagen during the Second World War. It is directed by Adam Katz, and produced by Lois Lowry and John Davis. It is set to release in Fall 2019 by 20th Century Fox as part of the novel's 30th anniversary.
This was one of the projects which Clearwater Animation, who acquired The Animation Picture Company (now Clearwater Animation LA) mid-production, dropped out of, after their restructure. However, they completed their part shortly before.
A 30-year-old narrator named Annemarie Johansen tells the story of her childhood when World War II has begun. The story starts with Annemarie who was 10 years old, and her friend Ellen Rosen, racing to the corner of Østerbrogade, Copenhagen. Both of these girls are 10 years old, and they both live in Denmark during World War 2. Annemarie, her 5-year-old sister Kirsti, and Ellen, are 3 girls in a country that is not free. There are Nazis on every street corner in Copenhagen, where they live. Butter, Sugar, Coffee, Cigarettes, and more stuff, are gone. Electricity and many other things have been rationed. The German soldiers stopped the girls from running like hoodlums.
After an encounter with two German Nazis, Annemarie and Ellen are much more careful. Later on, it turns out that for no good reason, the Germans are getting Jews and only the Jews, and sending them to bad places. At the synagogue, the Nazis have taken the names and addresses of all the Jewish people in Copenhagen. Ellen and her family are Jewish. Ellen's parents have fled with Peter Nielsen, a man working in the Danish Resistance and Annemarie's older sister Lise's fiance. Her older sister died years ago. Ellen must stay with the Johansens, pretending to be Lise, even though she is half the age of the real Lise. Soldiers go into the Johansen's house at 4 in the morning, and think that the Rosens are "paying a visit" to the Johansens. Annemarie and Ellen wake up and Annemarie breaks Ellen's Star of David necklace of Ellen's neck. If the soldiers saw it, they would have known Ellen was a Jew. Peter visits Annemarie and her family.
He tells them that the Germans have started closing Jewish stores. The next day, Ellen and her parents go to the synagogue for a Jewish holiday, but find out that the Nazis have demanded lists of names of all the Danish Jews, in order to arrest and deport them to eastern Europe. Peter takes Mr. and Mrs Rosen with him into hiding, and Ellen hides among the Johansen family, pretending to be Annemarie's late sister Lise. Ellen must stay with them, pretending to be Lise, even though she is half the age of the real Lise. Later that night the German soldiers go into the Johansen's house at 4 in the morning, and think that the Rosens are "paying a visit" to the Johansens.
Annemarie secretly rips off Ellen's Star of David necklace to conceal her identity. The German soldiers become suspicious because Annemarie and Kirsti have blond hair, but Ellen has dark brown hair. Mr. Johansen retrieves baby photos of his three daughters, with their names listed, which clearly show that Lise's hair was similar to Ellen's when she was a baby, and Mr. Johansen shows the Nazis a picture of baby Lise. They left without dignity. If the soldiers saw it, they would have known Ellen was a Jew. Afterward, Johansen has Annemarie moved to his brother-in-law, Henrik.
A brief flashback to September 29, 1943 establishes the background to the rescue of the Danish Jews. Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, an attache for Nazi Germany, contacts Danish social democrat Hans Hedtoft and notifies him of the intended deportation. Hedtoft warns the head of the Jewish community, C.B. Henriques, and the acting chief rabbi, Marcus Melchior, who spread the warning.
Returning to the main plot, a group of Nazi soldiers arrive and disrupt the funeral. Ellen's parents arrive shortly after. A soldier asks Annemarie's mother to open the casket. She told the soldier she would love to do so, since country doctors were not reliable, but the doctor told them that Great-aunt Birte had died from typhus, and opening the casket would spread the germs. The soldier slaps her and leaves in frustration. Peter reads the beginning of Psalm 147 from the Bible to the group, recounting the Lord God numbering the stars. Annemarie thinks that it is impossible to number the stars in the sky, and that the world is cold and very cruel, like the sky or the ocean. Mrs. Rosen is scared of both.
Peter opens the casket and distributes the warm clothing and blankets concealed inside it to the Jewish families. They depart in smaller groups to reduce attention. Ellen says goodbye to Annemarie and her mother (who were among those attending the funeral). In the morning, Annemarie spots her mother in the distance, crawling because she broke her ankle. When she gets near her mother, she sees a package that seems of great importance to the Resistance, and that Mr. Rosen dropped when he accidentally tripped on a flight of stairs. Mrs. Johansen, knowing the importance of the package, tells Annemarie to fill a basket with food and the packet, and run as fast as she can. Annemarie runs off onto a wooded path towards her uncle's boat.
Along the path, she is stopped by Nazi soldiers with dogs. When they ask what she is doing out so early in the morning, she lies, saying that she is taking lunch to her uncle. The soldiers don't believe her, and one of them grabs at the basket. However, the soldiers eventually let her go, and Annemarie makes it to her uncle's boat. She gives Uncle Henrik an envelope that contains a handkerchief. When the Nazi dogs taken on the boat sniff the handkerchief, they can no longer smell Uncle Henrik's hidden "cargo" — the Jewish people whom he's smuggling to safety.
Uncle Henrik returns to Denmark later that evening from Sweden. He tells Annemarie that many Jewish people, including the Rosens, were hiding in his boat. He also explains that the handkerchief in her package had a scent of rabbit blood to attract the dogs, and it contained cocaine. Several revelations are made: Peter was captured and executed by the Germans in the public town square.
Two years later, the war in Europe ends, and all of Denmark celebrates. The Jews who were forced to leave Denmark return and find that their friends and neighbors have kept up their apartments in hopes of their return. Annemarie learns that her sister Lise died, not in an accident, but because the Nazis intentionally hit her with a military car because of her work in the Danish Resistance. It is unknown if Ellen or her parents return to Copenhagen.