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Whether viewed as a serious art-house film, or sensationalist
exploitation, it cannot be denied that "Der Lebensborn" is a gorgeously
wrought film. A young Czech girl is discovered by Heinrich Himmler's
SS, in a remote Slovakian village. Taken by the girl's flawless "Aryan
beauty," she is quickly removed from her home and placed in a
"Lebensborn" facility, to breed superior Aryan babies for the Fuhrer.
Yes, the plot sounds like a sleazy exploitation film, and although it
does have some of that feel, such as gratuitous nude shower scenes,
this is an authentic part of Nazi history. These breeding camps did
exist, though many people are unaware of this.
While at the camp, we see the young woman have her skull measured and X Rayed, to determine her exact Aryan lineage. She, along with other women (mostly blond, all beautiful) from Germany and Norway, are matched up with high-born German men; SS troops from the best families, preferably who also show great heroism on the battlefield.
At first Gretka views the events unfolding before her with a detached air, but she soon begins to resent, and eventually despise the Nazi regime for what they are doing. And when she meets Leo, an attractive man of Jewish descent, acting as a slave to the SS, she decides to rebel in a way that is shocking and fascinating. "Lebensborn" deals with a subject matter that is so sordid and interesting that it would still be hard to not watch this, even if it was done poorly. Luckily this is an extremely competent production, featuring gorgeous cinematography, fine performances, and a lush, epic score. And although i feel guilty saying it, this film is strangely erotic. We even have the lesbian Commandant walking around in knee high black leather boots, issuing orders like a General on the front lines. It's hard to believe that this Czech production was made for television, as it is so polished, and is easily good enough to be a theatrical production. It is also fairly racy and explicit for a television movie. If you can find this obscure title, I recommend it highly. It is a must-see for WW2 enthusiasts..
Gretka, a beautiful girl from Checkslovakia, is selected to an elite school of Nazis to continue the pure arian race. I will not tell more so that I avoid spoiling the movie, although the idea of this film is not in the surprising events in the plot. Acting is nothing super, but works well with the plot. Cinematography is done in a way that is quite common to modern dramas in Europe, realistic colours. Not very easy to watch, so I cannot recommend this as a light sunday afternoon flick to cheer you up. Nevertheless, for serious drama fans who are not yet fed up with all the depressing films about WW2, this is worth watching.
Viewed at the Berlin Film Festival, 2000.
The film, 'The Spring Of Life', brings to light a little-known operation of the Nazi SS, started just before the outbreak of World War II. Carefully selecting young Czech and Norwegian women for their supposedly "blond Aryan" good looks, kidnapping them and brainwashing them with Nazi ideology at secret impregnation centers out in the country called "Lebensborn" homes, then having them mate arbitrarily with the best looking young Gernan soldiers on leave from the front, it was the Nazi's mad dream to create an Aryan 'master race'.
Original Czech title, "Pramen ivota", German title "Das Lebensborn", directed by Czech helmer Milan Cieslar (39), this is the story of a Czech girl who, because of her 'Aryan' good looks is selected to breed Aryan children as cannon fodder for the Third Reich in a "Lebensborn" home. She comes under the protection of the lesbian head mistress of the home and is thus spared the indignity of becoming a reproductive mare for Hitler's minions. However, she falls in love with a Jewish boy hiding out on the estate grounds which was confiscated ex- Jewish property, and becomes pregnant by him which leads to tragic complications.
Children born of these mechanical wartime matings still constitute a little known social problem in today's democratic Germany, and this film sheds new light upon one more troublesome skeleton in the collective German closet. Cieslar's excellent film is, however, much more a poignant drama than a finger-pointing exercise in accusation. Slovak actress Monika Hilmenova, 25, is striking as the tragic young heroine and veteran Czech actress Vilma Cybulkova is a most convincing, barely restrained, lesbian headmistress of the German sexploitation pit. NOTE: The "spring" of the title here does not refer to the season but rather to the source of ground water, symbolically a source of new life.
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