Before the Fall (2004)
"Napola - Elite für den Führer" (original title)

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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 »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jonas Jägermeyr ...
Christoph Schneider
Leon A. Kersten ...
Tjaden (as Leon Alexander Kersten)
Thomas Drechsel ...
Florian Stetter ...
Joachim Bißmeier ...
Michael Schenk ...
Justus von Dohnányi ...
Gauleiter Heinrich Stein (as Justus von Dohnàny and Justus von Dohnányi)
Frau Stein
Katharina (as Julie Marie Engelbrecht)
Johannes Zirner ...
Torben Send
Alexander Held ...
Friedrichs Vater


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Men Make History. We Make The Men.


Drama | Sport | War


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 January 2005 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Before the Fall  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$8,036 (USA) (7 October 2005)


$144,065 (USA) (19 May 2006)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


About 44 minutes into the US DVD edition of the movie, there is a scene where Albrecht pauses sadly over a picture of a fallen soldier, Torben Send. Torben was the previous editor of the school paper. There was a brief scene with the two of them before Torben left for the army, but it was ultimately cut from the film. See more »


During Friedrich's glider flight, his helmet is securely strapped at the start but is shown unstrapped a few seconds later. He kept both hands on the glider's yoke. See more »


Albrecht Stein: [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."
Vogler: Albrecht, stop.
Albrecht Stein: But as we returned, I understood that I am part of the evil that I ...
See more »


Featured in 2006 Glitter Awards (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Dead Nazis Society
24 April 2005 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

NAPOLA is on screen in a German Film festival touring Australia and like DOWNFALL may get a proper cinema release. It is certainly a commercial film. Not unlike Dead Poets Society but in a Nazi sports academy instead, NAPOLA features an exceptionally good looking cast and really absorbing locations and detail. I found it quite an experience to sit with a largely German audience, many of whom were clearly old age couples and a lot of 30 somethings who were Jewish. Those Anglos like me and my friends enjoyed the atmosphere provided by the audience as much as this very well made film. It is the first time ever I have been able to really feel (what I have always only imagined) a true sense of the thrill that German WW2 teenagers had by joining an elite Nazi regime, their sense of belong to something that was glorious and encompassing. Some more brutal elements from the teachers and Nazi hierarchy I personally found not too far removed from my experience of Catholic school in late (anti-vietnam) 1968! Sorry about that but it really did. Another person commenting on this page is angry that the film is misleading from his genuine Napola experience and it is well worth reading his comments as he was actually there in 38-42. I am sure he would know. However for today, NAPOLA needs to speak to a new audience and present an experience in a new and idealized way to people who have only imagined what it was like; I think the film must fit that in order to succeed as a film in 2005. I found that acceptable. There is many strong physical and emotional scenes, the teen casting is quite ideal and the castle location is eerie and medieval and exactly what I have seen in Hitler Youth Documentaries: turrets, Nazi flags, flames, stone walls all looks evocative and thrilling in cinemascope. For a 20 something audience this film succeeds well for them, those older might see it as a Nazi pantomime with overtones and snowy style of "The Emperor's Club" or "Dead Poets Society". But for a look into a thrilling and brutal world of elite Nazi sports and harsh idealism, NAPOLA is a very commercial and visually successful film. One sensational scene under the ice on a lake is right out of DAMIEN OMEN 2 and a bit of TITANIC thrown in as well. It is a great scene and quite heartbreaking. The use of snowflakes is particularly emotional in several scenes. If NAPOLA gets a commercial release I would certainly suggest you see it, it delivers what we as an audience want to see in a Nazi teen movie, especially with ideal casting and production values. I also find it quite interesting to see modern German film makers explaining the Nazi past in what seems to be a brave attempt at being honest about its seduction of morals and values and visual excitement.

39 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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