In 1942, Friedrich Weimer's boxing skills get him an appointment to a National Political Academy (NaPolA) - high schools that produce Nazi elite. Over his father's objections, Friedrich ... See full summary »
Argentina, in the middle fifties. Sulamit is the daughter of German-Jewish refugees. Friedrich is the son of German-Nazis refugees. Both children are closely friends as times goes by ... See full summary »
Ibiza, the early nineties, Jo is a twenty-five-year-old music composer. He has come over from Berlin and wants to be part of the nascent electronic music revolution, ideally by getting a ... See full summary »
Benjamin is a 16 year old, paralyzed on one side of his body, with lousy grades in math, who switches to a boarding school to reach grammar school. Acclimatization to the new environment is... See full summary »
This tragicomedy is a self-ironic portrait of a young man who drops out of university and ends up wandering the streets of the city he lives: Berlin. The film deals with the desire to ... See full summary »
Jan Ole Gerster
Justus von Dohnányi
Fate has taken its toll on the aging cabaret singer Ruth and the young but terminally ill Jonas. Yet despite their great age difference and their entirely opposite experiences in life, they... See full summary »
In 1942, Friedrich Weimer's boxing skills get him an appointment to a National Political Academy (NaPolA) - high schools that produce Nazi elite. Over his father's objections, Friedrich enrolls, seeing this as his ticket out of factory life to university and a good salary. During his year in seventh column (fifth form), this innocence is altered as Friedrich encounters hazing, cruelty, death, and the Nazi code. His friendship with Albrecht, the ascetic son of the area's governor, is central to this education; a night in the forest hunting for escaped Russian POWs brings things to a head. Written by
NaPolA is the acronym for "National-politische Erziehungs-Anstalt" or "National Political Education Institute". See more »
At least one of the Napola boxers and one of the training officers have pierced ears. Very unlikely, this being set in Nazi Germany. See more »
[reading from his essay]
"As childish as it sounds, the winter time and the sight of freshly fallen snow always fill us with inexplicable joy. Perhaps because as children, we associated it with Christmas. I always imagine myself the hero who killed dragons, rescued virgins, and freed the world from evil. As we went out yesterday to find the prisoners, I felt like that little boy who wanted to save the world."
But as we returned, I understood that I am part of the evil that I ...
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Should have been a contender for 'best foreign film'
Contains slight spoilers.
This is one of a new breed of German films (like 'The Downfall') that takes a new look at the Nazi period. It is not afraid to show how attractive Nazism actually seemed to most Germans at the time and to show 'nice' characters happily giving the Hitler salute. Not that the film is in any way pro-Nazi -- quite the reverse.
Here we have a story about an élite school for future Nazi leaders. A working-class boy who is good at boxing is given a place there, where he makes friends with the sensitive son of the local Nazi leader. The brutality of the system eventually pushes both of them to become outsiders. Two suicides tellingly punctuate the story.
The acting is outstanding throughout, especially by the young stars of the film. Max Riemelt is particularly good as the boxer. The character is meant to be a doer rather than a thinker, unlike his friend, but Riemelt manages the transition from easy-going and rather empty-headed Hitler youth to someone who is prepared to stand against the inhumanity of Nazism.
The plot contains some powerful dramatic set pieces, such as the scene with the hand grenades and the one where the students dive under a frozen lake. These are brilliantly handled by the director and screenwriter, Dennis Gansel. He manages to bring out the full drama of them without overdoing it or lurching into melodrama or pathos.
I'm not generally a great fan of German films, many of which tend to be either self-consciously arty or trashily commercial. This is the best one I've seen since Das Boot.
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