Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Cast and crew:
Germany (2005)
Length: 117 minutes
Genre: Historical drama
Original German name: Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage
Directed by: Marc Rothemund
Producers: Fred Breinersdorfer, Sven Burgemeister, Christoph Müller and Marc Rothemund
Screenwriter: Fred Breinersdorfer
Starring: Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Gerald Alexander Held and Florian Stetter

Munich, Germany. 1942. During the Second World War, Germany, which is led by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi supporters, is attempting to make a breakthrough on its Eastern front by trying to invade Russia. While German soldiers are fighting against Russian soldiers, a group of students of the University of Munich, who are members of an anti-Nazi group called the White Rose, are distributing leaflets to convince people to stop supporting Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, Sophie and Hans Scholl will be the first members of the White Rose to be arrested by the Gestapo, Germany's state police. This is the story of the last days that Sophie Scholl spent.

With the new generation of German moviemakers who don’t seem to have the Nazi era deeply rooted in their mentality, one is certainly not supposed to be surprised to see all these movies about the Second World War (seen through the eyes of Germans) being released worldwide. Oliver Hirschbiegel’s The Downfall, a movie about the final days of Adolf Hitler, gloriously topple people’s expectations and was praised. Now, on the other side of the curtain, this excellent movie delivers to most of us an unknown part of the German History: the White Rose, an anti-Nazi group constituted of young students.

This unforgettable movie about resistance against the Nazi regime in Germany, which was the German official entry at the 2005 Oscar ceremony, is the story of German students who found the courage to oppose themselves to the internal and foreign policies of Adolf Hitler, the chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, in 1942. Despite being a little bit unpredictable for most people, the storyline is logically and brilliantly constructed. Nonetheless, despite the high calibre that defines Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, it’s still easy to find a flaw in this movie that I consider as one of the best European movies ever.

In fact, while the movie seems very exciting and interesting because of the way how the story creates our subjective fascination for what the main characters are doing in the beginning to introduce us to their contempt for Hitler’s internal and foreign policies, it is very saddening to see that the pace of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is getting annoyingly slow in the middle when she’s in prison under the control of the Gestapo. Still, some nuances must be applied into the previous comment. The time that Sophie spends into her cell doesn’t often allows us to learn things about what really defines her through her conversation with her cellmate. This means that some parts of their conversation could have been cut for the well being of the viewers.

While the movie is sadly being slowed down by the scenes in Sophie’s cell, in the middle of the movie, things still get very interesting when she’s being interrogated by Inspector Mohr, a state officer. These scenes succeed into displaying all the motives that were not really concealed in the mind of Sophie. In my opinion, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days starts to be rather interesting when viewers get past the movie’s middle. The third part of the movie is a pack of moving scenes that either touches us or impresses us by the courage of the main protagonists. Some people might say that the characters in this movie are a little bit artificial and one-dimensional in the third part. Unfortunately, this statement, in my opinion, is totally false. Although the feelings of the characters experience few changes in this part of the movie, this part, in my opinion, reveals what the characters are truly made of, psychologically speaking.

Even though certain flaws in the script could have been taken out by some cuts of useless scenes in the middle of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, Julia Jentsch (The Edukators), as Sophie Magdalena Scholl, along with the rest of the cast, convinces us about the credibility of this historically accurate movie. Her excellent performance filled with nuances perfectly shows the real human strength that really gives life to Sophie Scholl. Sometimes, Jetsch uses her eyes to express her character’s feelings, but unfortunately, her skills with mastering her eyes-work, in a manner of speaking, is a little bit flawed, because in some scenes, the feelings often hardly come out. Anyway, I’m sure that Julia Jentsch is a young talent that will soon get international recognition for her work done with passion.

Finally, this dramatization of the last days spent by Sophie Scholl might give the feelings to viewers that the end of the movie leaves out other interesting historical things that could have been enlightened, but Sophie Scholl: The Final Days must be considered for what it is: a historical movie that illustrates another point of view from the German perspective. In fact, even though the movie might certainly not pleases to some Hollywood producers who regard the world as a black and white board, I deeply hope that it will appeal to people, just like me, who enjoy learning things in History. By the way, this is not an action movie.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

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