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In World War II, after a period living hell on earth in the concentration camp of Dachau with other catholic priests, Father Abbé Henri Kremer gets a nine days leave to return to his home town for his mother's funeral. Along this period, the SS Gestapo lieutenant Gebhardt tries to persuade Henri, who was born in silver-spoon and member of an influent Luxembourgian family, to convince the local bishop to give-up resisting to the Germans and write a letter to the Vatican in the name of the Catholic Church of Luxemburg convincing the Pope to support Hitler and the Nazi regime. The ambivalent Henri questions himself and the bishop what he shall do. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the opening scene where the priests in the concentration camp celebrate Mass secretly, the celebrating priest gives the others Communion saying "Corpus Christi", with the communicant answering "Amen". But this is how Communion is done in the new Roman Rite (Novus Ordo), introduced in 1969/70. In the old Roman Rite (Tridentine Rite), that was used generally at the time the story takes place, the priest makes the sign of the Cross with the host over the paten and then says: "Corpus Domini Nostri Iesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen." ("The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ may lead your soul to eternal life.") Then he administers Communion. The communicant remains silent. See more »
I have no great sympathy for the Catholic Church, but I found the movie quite moving while watching it. There were some rank-and-file Catholic (and Protestant) clergy who spoke up against Nazism. They paid a heavy price - in part because there wasn't an outcry on the part of the higher-ups in the church hierarchy. They were more interested in keeping their perks and playing nice with the powers-that-be. This silent betrayal is very well conveyed in the movie.
Unfortunately some of the other dramatic elements don't work as well. I think the movie would have been stronger if Henri Kremer's relationship with his family -- his sister especially, who was willing to put her life on the life so he could flee to freedom -- had been more fleshed out. They don't even show their parting! So although I was interested throughout the movie, it was not quite satisfying.
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