Portrait of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis for plotting to assassinate Hitler, conveys the essence of a man and his world. Bonhoeffer's life is lyrically presented, with his friends and family shedding light on his breakaway seminary, his travels to America and Harlem, his calls to change the world for better, and his noble attempts to respond to Nazi Germany as a Christian. Written by
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Under-your-skin doc that brings clarity to Nazi-era spiritual turmoil
It looks like a PBS piece ... because it undoubtedly will be. The support credits include some of the few remaining funding sources for long-form documentary work ... but that's just the bankroll, not the message. For those who have spent more than a few moments wondering how the impressive intellectual and cultural powers of Germany in the '30's and '40's could have "allowed" Hitler to wreak the genocide and destruction that he did, start here. "Bonhoeffer" digs into the mind and spirit of one man... but the filmmaker's eye never blinks. The careful balance of grainy black and white, motion camera exploration of archival stills and contemporary color footage of eyewitnesses, historians and theologians creates a tapestry that romances the viewer into wondering who this "Dietrich" is ... then experiencing his personal struggles and turmoil ... then taking shallow breaths as he poses for a picture in the Tegel prison courtyard in a jacket and tie -- gentleman to the end. The closing fog- bound color photography of Flossenburg (the concentration camp where Bonhoeffer was hanged literally days before the allies arrived) is chilling. The perfect coda.
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