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Rua Alguem 5555: My Father (2003)
"My Father, Rua Alguem 5555" (original title)

 |  Drama, War  |  12 October 2004 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 188 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 4 critic

A man who grew up an orphan finally gets to meet his father: The psychopath Dr. Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz surgeon who performed genetic experiments on concentration camp refugees during WWII.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Hermann M.
...
The Father (Josef Mengele)
...
Paul Minsky
Thomas Heinze ...
Robert S.
Denise Weinberg ...
Magdalena Weinert
...
Wolfgang Weinert
Camilo Beviláqua ...
Jens Keitel
Petra Reinhardt ...
Young Hermann's Mother (as Petra Maria Reinhardt)
Marit Nissen ...
Young Aunt Lotte
Ivan de Almeida ...
Policeman at the Front Desk - Manaus
András Stohl ...
Werner M.
Áron Sipos ...
Hörst Baumann (as Aron Sipos)
Ida Gomes ...
Old Jewish Woman at the Cemetery
Debbie Javor ...
Old Aunt Lotte
Marcos Breda ...
Samuel Lifton
Edit

Storyline

A man who grew up an orphan finally gets to meet his father: The psychopath Dr. Josef Mengele, the Auschwitz surgeon who performed genetic experiments on concentration camp refugees during WWII.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

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Details

Country:

| |

Release Date:

12 October 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Josef Mengele - My Father - Rua Alguém 5555  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Trivia

Charlton Heston's last film. See more »

Connections

Features The Immigrant (1917) See more »

Soundtracks

Xingu River
from "Aguas de Amazonia"
Musi by Philip Glass
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User Reviews

 
Being the struggle of a young man to free himself from a father he did not know...
12 February 2004 | by (Berlin, Germany) – See all my reviews

Our decisions are based not only on rational conclusions, but to a certain (and relatively large) amount on our emotions that might even contradict any rationality. This however is due to the fact that we are human beings and we learned to deal with this, as we have to balance this equation every day to come to decisions. Most of the time we're not even aware of this any more, but the more rationality and emotional state drift apart, the stronger becomes our struggle. If this struggle is forced to its extremes, man at a point becomes aware that he is stuck, stuck with a burden he is not able to carry, nor able to rid himself of it. At some point there he loses the ability to live and goes to rack and ruin.

And here, at its extremes, the movie fades in. Based on the story `Vati' by Peter Schneider, "Papà" tells the story of Hermann (Kretschmann), a young man who never got the chance to consciously meet his father, picked on and beaten up in school for reasons he could not imagine, tolerated by his teachers, but treated like a ghost. Growing up he will discover that it was not him who created all this hatred, but his name. Hermann, now a full-grown man, takes the chance to travel to South America to meet his father for the first time - a man who as a doctor and genetic scientist is responsible for the death of thousands of prisoners in the concentration camp of Auschwitz, responsible for ghastly human experiments he performed on children and new-borns, a man who decided between imprisonment and "Vergasung". "Der Todesengel" of Auschwitz Dr. Josef Mengele (Charlton Heston) has - with the help of his family and friends - managed to escape trial by fleeing to Latin America. Hermann wants to confront his father with his past, somehow yearns for answers that do not exist, or if they did, are those of another generation which are not understandable. But his slight hope to convince his father to face his past and give himself up to the police quickly vanishes as not only Hermann, but also his father has been waiting for this meeting for ages, convinced to get his own flesh and blood on his side, to rid Hermann of the "lies of his enemies". What follows is a cold war between father and son. Hermann finds himself torn apart by his struggle of doing the only rational thing - denouncing his own father - or surrender to his uncertain emotions and cover him. Can there be a bond between father and son so strong that a mass-murder-identity can be accepted by the ladder, even though they hardly know each other? Has Hermann any right to cover his father or would he cover himself with guilt as well?

This movie is not only about the struggle of a young man he won't be able to win, nor is it only the biography of the KZ Arzt Dr. Mengele. "My father" covers even more. It depicts the human desire of justice, a somehow strange and unfortunate desire as in this case it cannot be satisfied. It hints the victims' states of mind that will never ever get "justice". Could the capture of this man make up for the enormous pain the victims had to suffer? Definitely not, but it would have helped to ease another pain - the total helplessness derived from the idea of the most wanted mass-murder alive at that time to escape trial and live in peace till the end of his days. A man that "does not deserve to rest". It is this helplessness in the end that makes it so hard for the victims left behind without the chance of justice to accept their torturer's death. Mengele dies in 1979 near Sao Paulo under mysterious circumstances leaving enough room for speculation he might perhaps once and for all have escaped persecution by faked death. However six years after this incident the israelian secret service will find his grave; examination of the skeleton and teeth will confirm Mengele's identity.

Heston's performance as Dr. Josef Mengele is completely stunning, a role he played so convincing and strong (his pro-rifle propaganda rallies across the country for the NRA might have been the ideal training) that his charisma and pure darwinistic lectures given to his son overlay his mass-murder-identity. And at some point you might catch yourself, deeply shocked, thinking of this murderer as a poor old man who might as well be just a victim of a horrible system. Sure, this choice of cast felt strange at the beginning, but after seeing the result, I could not think of any better choice. And as Peter Schneider said: "Be honest, would you rather have liked to see a Dustin Hoffman or Richard Gere in this role?" Nothing more to add to this. Kretschmann plays the role of Hermann with great routine which is ironically exactly what he lacks when it comes to discussing the movie or giving us an idea of how he felt playing this character. No bad intention, but on the screen he seems to feel much more comfortable than in front of an audience, but who am I to blame him.

The struggle that the hero of this movie Hermann has to go through on the screen, definitely a fight he cannot win (whatever his decision may be at the end), is projected onto the audience ( thank god we don't have to cope with that for a lifetime ). And if it was for this effect alone, "my father" would be a success. 8.5/10 => 9/10


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