Cologne-Ehrenfeld, November 1944. They're young, wild and rebellious, like young people anywhere and in any time. But working-class boys Karl and his younger brother Peter are Edelweiss ... See full summary »
Cologne-Ehrenfeld, November 1944. They're young, wild and rebellious, like young people anywhere and in any time. But working-class boys Karl and his younger brother Peter are Edelweiss Pirates. They oppose the Nazis, and are pursued by the Gestapo. With the escaped concentration camp prisoner Hans Steinbrück they plan acts of sabotage, until the Gestapo take them on with their full might. When they're arrested, Karl is torn between his will to survive, his feelings of responsibility, his love for his brother and his loyalty to the Edelweiss Pirates. Written by
Wartime propaganda in North America painted all Germans as evil but it seems that finally enough time has passed since the end of the war that films can explore more subtle story lines. Not all Germans were Nazis and the stories of those Germans who just tried to survive and even some who went beyond and protested the war through their dress and activities are not well known. This film does an admirable job of showing daily life amidst the ruins of Cologne in the closing months of WWII. Short of food and hope, gangs of anti Hitler-youth who call themselves 'Eidelweiss Pirates' listen to French underground jazz music and fill their days with mild acts of protest against the state. Eventually these teenage kids are drawn into the underground through personal circumstance to do their part to terminate the war in any way they can, perhaps foolishly and without forethought but with as much belief in their cause as their Hitler Youth counterparts. Truly a groundbreaking piece of film and a story that needs to be told. The film does suffer from being a bit slow moving, especially at the beginning, and the final scene is overwrought, but these are minor complaints.
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