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I do not at all understand how someone can dismiss this film as a "Catholic propaganda movie". That's utter rubbish. I was raised catholic and have converted to paganism but this was still an excellent movie. It does not try to push the catholic faith onto anyone. What it is about is, simply, one man's principles. In an awful time, in the face of torture and abuse, when he is being confronted with the most persuasive arguments and when no one could blame him for taking the easy way out and saving himself, can he stand by what he believes? Will he save himself and then live the rest of his life hating himself for it? This movie was completely engrossing from beginning to end. It absolutely gripped my emotions and my mind and held me riveted. It also left me thinking about it and haunted by it long afterward. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Brilliant. I found myself both attracted to and repelled by the character of the Nazi sent to persuade him. Amazing subject matter beautifully executed.
This movie has been unduly panned by IMDb critics as being Catholic
propaganda, when there is hardly any. It's actually an exploration of
questions on faith and morality, viewed from the perspective of Rev.
Henri Kremer, a priest who has been "on leave" from Dachau to convince
the Bishop of Luxemburg to support Nazism, who has been a silent
opponent all throughout. At one point the film even mentions that the
Pope however congratulated Hitler on his birthday - that clearly
indicates the acquiescence of the Catholic world - to me that's quite
the opposite of propaganda.
**** SOME SPOILERS AHEAD **** The movie chronicles each of the 9 days that Rev. Kremer is allowed, and his conversations with Gestapo officer Gebhardt. When Kremer fails to convince the Bishop, he is persuaded to write a memo himself, given his own respectability due to his family status. In return he can have all the priests in Dachau released. Kremer at one point thinks he is being like Judas betraying the Christian cause (also to be noted that his personal cash upon release amounted to 30 marks), which Gebhardt, a former theology student himself, argues is a necessary evil, because without Judas there would be no martyrdom of Christ, and hence no Christianity. Rev. Kremer also learns that by giving Nazi policies the official blessing of Catholicism, he can be responsible for the deportation of thousands - although some 40 priests could be let go from Dachau. The resulting dilemma of Kremer dominates the movie.
Ulrich Matthes is very convincing in the role of Kremer with his sunken cheeks and eyes, and watch the young actor August Diehl in the role of Untersturmfuehrer Gebhardt.
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 (Ulrich Matthes) gets a nine days leave to return to his
home town for his mother's funeral. Along this period, the SS Gestapo
lieutenant Gebhardt (August Diehl) 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.
Based on a true story, "Der Neunte Tag" is an awesome movie and another impressive example of the powerful German cinema, of which I am a great fan. The philosophical duel between the characters of Ulrich Matthes and August Diehl is simply fantastic, with magnificent silence and dialogs. Sometimes, silence associated to the expression of the face is more significant than words. The direction is stunning and very realistic, particularly in the concentration camp; the music score and the cinematography are very beautiful; and the performances are perfect, with the two lead actors deserving nominations to the Oscar. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "9o Dia" ("9th Day")
After reading some of the reviews below, I could not resist the
frustration and decided to register and express my own opinion on the
subject. First of all, it is a great movie, very humanistic and
powerful. It is a movie about inner human struggle, it has nothing to
do with church propaganda or any other nonsense so cheaply expressed by
some "commentators". Being myself raised and atheist (in the former
Soviet Union), subsequently going through Christian transformation but
eventually abandoning it and becoming a naturalistic pantheist, I found
the movie extremely resonating and devoid of any propaganda at all. It
is a story about life the way it was, about people cast into the horror
of the state machine, powerless and nearly broken. You will see no
heroics, no pretty faces, no romantic interludes, only the bleak
atmosphere and a masterful portrayal of the events. The most persistent
feeling the movie leaves inside is the torturous question "What
character could I actually be had I lived back then?" and the
chilling realization of the answer "anyone of them." I only hope that
the History is not going to repeat itself the way it always
persistently did over the past millennium.
Most people are "conditioned" with the false sense of Hollywood "reality" in movies, but the real life is very different and this movie provides a great example of it. It actually is a big plus that the language is German, it adds a lot to the authenticity of the feeling. I have no difficulties following the English subtitles, the dialogs are sparse and do not divert from the main flow (needless to say, my native language is Russian). Finally, the soundtrack is simply incredible. The morons who call it "weak" should check the credits at the end the bulk of the sound uses Alfred Schnittke's symphonic works a perfect ornament to the gloomy and hopeless flow.
If you are looking for a movie to entertain yourself, you are definitely in a wrong place. By if you are like me, looking for a movie to enhance your soul and understanding of the drama of our life, then it is definitely worth checking out. 10/10
During WW2 a priest named Henry Kremer(Ulrich Matthes) imprisoned in
concentration camp of Dachau is freed along a period of 9 days. He's
threatened by a SS Unterstumfuhrer(August Dhiel) to convince the
Luxemburg bishop(Tathe) to write a declaration for supporting the Nazi
regime . The priest is affected because of his decision whether or not
to collaborate with the Nazis.
This is an intelligent and thought-provoking film , correctly based on real events. The director covers a wide variety of plot developments at a rare pace by means of continuous flashbacks in which remembers horrible events at concentration camp of Duchau. Excellent performances by main cast as Ulrich Matthes (Goebbles in ¨The downfall¨) and August Dhiel(Ingorious bastards). Good secondary cast as Bibiana Beglau (Legend of Rita by Schlondorff) as the affecting sister . The musical score is often despairing and screeching with surprising witty touches , it is composed by Russian musician Alfred Schnitke(1934-88). The motion picture is well directed by Volker Scholondorff. He's an expert on Nazi issues as proved in ¨Tim drum¨ , ¨The ogre¨ and this one. Schlondorff does a very unusual pictures with important insight into how the past affects the present and root causes of war. His first feature film, ¨Young Torless¨ was showed around the world and he was pretty heard by international viewers when directed ¨The lost honour of Katharine Blum¨, getting similar success his fellow-countrymen as Fassbinder, Herzog and Wenders. His reputation was greatly enhanced when his phenomenal movie ¨Tin drum¨ was awarded the Oscar as best foreign-language film. Later on,Schlondorff consolidated with ¨Circle of deceits¨. Since then his films have been less satisfactory as ¨Murder in the Bayou¨ , ¨Handmaid's tale¨and ¨Palmetto¨.
Rating : Very good , Schlondorff's one the last impressive film to date. The film is admirable coherent , though in complicated narrative and never sags under its approx. hundred minutes . The movie will appeal to Nazi theme buffs
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**** may contain spoilers ******
I am not surprised nor offended that some reviewers find the Ninth Day a Catholic propaganda and Ullrich Matthes' silences a witness to his lack of Thespian credentials. Quite the contrary, such comments confirm that the movie, and the basis of morality which it examines, is not intellectually available or esthetically pleasing to simple-minded people. That in itself marks its quality.
There are some absolutely gripping moments in the Schloendorff's masterpiece: the mocking of the Polish priest before he is hoisted on the cross (he was not "crucified" - that just would not capture the horrific sadism in the act - the movie makes a point in altering the method of using the cross by a Dachau commandant), the reading by Gebhardt of Kremer's human weakness and sense of inferiority (the offering of the chocolates after Kremer contemptuously refuses a cigarette was a devilish coup - Kremer tries to justify his defeat by offering the sweet to an unknown little girl), Gebhardt's theory of "Judas" as the most pious Christian, his cool reception of Kremer's volcanic "noli venire inter Domine et me", Gebhardt's contempt for the cowardice of Kremer's brother ("you were right, the eggs are excellent")...no, this is no Catholic propaganda, on the contrary, the body of Christ failed Kremer by signing the Concordat with the Antichrist, in his search for the vindication of his faith he is alone, ...this has all the markings of a great classic: ingenious, complex, haunting, obsessional, true.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is easy to criticize the actions of others using the clarity of
hindsight but realistically Nazis were humans and given the correct
conditioning almost any human could be a Nazi. This is a story about
one of the few who refused to capitulate and paid a price for it.
Some people here have complained about the film being catholic propaganda, something tells me they complain not when they view other propaganda but it is instead the fact that this film portrays some members of the church in a positive light that instead incites a reaction of anger. I don't know what is more hilarious, the fact that they themselves are ignorant of history or that they themselves would be goose-stepping in line to protect their well being. One says that the referenced event (the sending of non Aryan Christians to camps) does not occur for another 3 months. He acts as if this was the first injustice the Nazis ever bore down on anybody. From the beginning of their rule the Nazis destroyed all those that opposed them, yes the more noble thing to do would be to speak out but if by speaking out you only get people killed that doesn't make it the easy thing, or the right thing to do.
As for the critics of Pope Pius XII, I wish you would learn some history before looking for someone to scapegoat for the convenient ignorance that prevailed throughout Europe and in America to the horrors the Nazis were committing. As someone of Jewish descent I myself can say that the catholic chruch personally helped members of my extended family. Also in 1941 the Times praised Pius XII as "the only ruler left on the continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all". Albert Einstien too praised the catholic effort "Six million of my co-religionists have been murdered by the Nazis, but there could have been many more victims, had it not been for the efficacious intervention of Pius XII" At his funeral the prime minister of Isreal stated "When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims." An Isreali diplomat has credit the catholic church and Pope Pius with saving more than two times the number of Jews that the allies saved. On October 20th 1939 Pius XII released a encyclical letter condemning fascism nazism and communism. On Christmas, 1942 Pius XII became the first international figure to publicly condemn the holocaust. Could the church could have done more? Possibly, but then again so could every other country and organization on the face of the globe. Trying to demonize the catholic church for its supposed "inaction" is ridiculous. Some people however would rather believe that the catholic church was an evil institution allied with the Nazis (a group which sought to abolish them) rather than an organization which tried to guide its people and save lives throughout Europe.
this film is not a propaganda movie, there were catholics who cared about the fate of the jews and there were catholics (like this film also shows) who were under the thumb of the Nazis. There is no way you can say this is a propaganda film. Yes there are some events that are not based directly on fact but there were men of the same conviction who performed similar feats and stood up in the face of the same fate.
That being said the lead actor was extremely emotive and the sparse dialog in the film helped to portray the bleakness of his situation. He is faced with a choice no man wants to make and uses his faith and his conscience to reach the right decision
"The Ninth Day" is one of Volker Schlondorff's finest directorial feats. It covers an episode of the Nazi concentration Camp of Dachau in which there was a lesser known group of Catholic priests who were incarcerated and half of them exterminated by the oppressive regime that had enveloped Germany in the 30's and 40's during WW II. It particularly revolves around a priest from Luxemburg, Father Henri Kremer, who is released for a nine day period from the camp in order to develop positive relationships between the Bishop of Luxemburg and the Pope and Adolph Hitler's Nazi goals of extermination of specific groups of peoples. Ulrich Matthes plays Henri Kremer and he is very convincing in his strength of faith and love of family in his struggle to accomplish what he has been requested by the Gestapo to do. August Diehl is brilliant in his portrayal of Unterstumfuhrer Gebhardt, the demanding and ruthless Gestapo leader who degrades and tortures his victims to the nth degree. The cruel treatment and crucifixions of the priests is difficult to watch, yet this is a true recollection of events documented by the writer of the book by the same name. He was one of the few Catholic priest survivors of the camp. This film was released in 2004, and it is now on DVD and well worth the viewing for an historical standpoint with a different twist.
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.
This movie is full of symbols, noticeable and hidden, and takes quite a
different step from other WWII movies. A test of will and faith is the
lesson that we are given, and I must admit, the whole concept of Judas
as the traitor and Luxembourg as the had me confused at moments because
above all, "Der Neunte Tag" is a very philosophical movie.
Somebody mentioned the word "propaganda of the Catholic church" in a previous comment-well here's my thoughts on this. When's the last time you celebrated Christmas, had an Ester egg, saw a Pope on TV (not to mention-DIDN'T see any Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Taoist and other important religious figures) or just passed a Catholic church on the way home. We are surrounded by propaganda, and because a monstrous conqueror of the world used it to achieve his objectives almost 70 years ago people make your so called "propaganda" of the 2nd World War as well, right? Don't be so ignorant and offended without a cause my man-it's the Catholic church that started most historical and current wars in the first place.
Now, back onto the tracks. Well written, well acted (I got a chance to ask August Diehl some questions and congratulate him for his role- the 16th Ljubljana Film Festival rocks!!!), and well paced "Der Neunte Tag' is a memorable movie that has something to say and let's you decide everything else.
"It's a philosophical sport, boomerang: you give something and it comes back to you"
9/10 - Recommendations-Anyone seeking a thought provoking movie
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