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As this is more of a history film, I will write this review based on
the historical aspect of the film and not so much about the acting.
However it goes without saying that the acting and handling of the
camera was nothing less than superlative! By watching the film you
really have the impression of being there at that time.
This film details the last six days of the primary members of a resistance group called the White Rose. The White Rose was an organization of students, mainly around Munich, during the years 1942-1943, though there were fringe elements that eluded capture by the authorities that survived until the end of the war. Many of those survivors contribute to this story.
There are two other films about the group. The main one was a film called "The White Rose". It can be found described here in IMDb. It recounts the complete story of the group. The other was Fünf Letzte Tage (The five last days), which deals with Sophie's last five days. Both of these movies were released in 1982 and the same actress (Lena Stolze) plays Sophie Scholl.
This current film is an amalgamation of the two films with some expansion to the story. More information since the original two films, released in 1982, was subsequently available.
I have studied the story of this group at some length and find the historical aspects of this film track very well with a few notable exceptions. First, at one point when Sophie learns that Christoph Probst was also implicated (she and Hans tried to take all the blame to avoid others from being drawn in) historical accounts say she was shaken to her core and she screams. In the movie however it hardly phases her, she only screams later after the meeting with her parents. I suppose this was done to increase the theatrical value by the placement.
The other is that Police Commissioner Mohr is painted slightly darker than in real life. According to Else Gebel he came back from the prison "white as chalk". She asks if they will die and he only nods shaken from the experience. Else asks how she took it. He replies that she was very brave." He then said, "Keep her in your thoughts in the next half an hour. By that time she will reach the end of her suffering.".
However despite this I thought it was a fantastic film, and probable to date the best one on the subject. There have been a recent wave of films coming from the Bavaria Film Studios, "Der Untergang", "Napola" and this film, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the end of the war. It has been suggested in some circles that this is an attempt to whitewash, I disagree. Until 1994 when I made a visit to Tuebingen and saw some graffiti, I never heard of the White Rose (I am an American). In fact I didn't even know there WAS a German resistance. So I think this about time that this is also given it's place in history along side of the other aspects. In every age there is always a resistance element -- even in our own day. So why should this be such a surprise?
I hope that those who see this film enjoy it as I have. I give it nine stars!
As a person who spent many years 'making art', I could not be more
amazed reading some of the comments. I've just been to a preview of
Sophie Scholl in Manchester, England; and I am not only glad that this
movie has been made, but also that it is done at the time when young
people are happier to do 'whatever' rather than have any principles.
There is no point debating historical accuracy. As it followed from the Q&A session with Marc Rothemund following the preview, not only the filming took place at the original locations that are still there, but the crew went at great length doing things 'right', including getting the weather reports for February 1943. Yes, there is this strange feeling of looking at the film's title, which sounds like the title for a documentary. But then I didn't gather the impression that Rothemund's goal was to poeticise the story of Sophie Scholl. I think it is quite enough that in Germany she is perceived as a martyr. What Sophie Scholl - Die Letzten Tage does successfully is it shows a person behind the image, a young girl (younger than myself), who was prepared to die for her idea, but desperately loved life.
I read critical comments, and mine was in part sparked by them. Far from trying to debate their correctness, I'll do exactly what I always do on these occasions. Guys, those of you who decide to write next dismissive drag, instead tell us how you would direct in Rothemund's place. Or how would you act in place of Julia Jentsch? If you have really valid suggestions, we'll all be happy to hear.
True heroism, like martyrdom, must be imposed by fate, not sought. This
is a profound moral principle that exercised Joseph Conrad in Lord Jim.
Again, Robert Bolt's Sir Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons does
everything he can to avoid his looming martyrdom - except sacrifice his
conscience and moral identity.
This is not the only moral concept within this quiet, dignified, deeply moving German film, that resonates with significance for today's world. Much literature and most films, portray heroism as dramatic, with feats of daring and thrilling actions. This finely judged, beautifully played little film shows us heroism of a different kind: an unshakeable belief in justice, loyalty to personal conscience, and conviction unto death of the reality of the idea of freedom.
The story of the events leading up to the actual execution in 1943, of Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans and friend Christoph Probst, is horrifying for the sheer banality of their offence. As members of a student group, the White Rose, they were secretly distributing pamphlets daring to question Hitler's conduct of the war and the likelihood of victory. On discovery they are drawn into a process with none of the strutting, grandiose black clad villains so beloved of decades of British and American movies. Like someone standing too close to a dangerous machine, they are caught by a tiny thread of circumstance and increasingly dragged deeper and deeper into its destructive mechanism.
Each meticulous step in their tragedy is efficiently recorded, documented and processed with a detached calm that makes one shudder when one recalls the sheer bureaucratic efficiency with which the same machine disposed of 6 million Jews, Gypsies, and other selected groups of human beings. It is enormously affecting that three of the brightest and best of German youth are subjected to the same fate because of their refusal to conform to a corrupted nationalism and a cowed people. Perhaps because it suggests that the collective insanity that was Germany in the 30's and 40's was not a uniquely German phenomenon but one to which any society might succumb if the voice of justice is silenced, the rule of law subverted and fear becomes the currency of social life. Another conventional and comfortable fiction of British and American movies cast in doubt. And a thought for today.
The moral and dramatic heart of this absorbing film is in Sophie's extended interrogation by Mohr (Gerald Held), one time rural policeman now grateful to the Reich for his elevation to interrogator with the power of life or death over his prisoners. Mohr looks more like a stern Bank Manager unconvinced by a cash-flow projection than a leering, jack-booted man in black with silver lightning flashes. A father himself, he clearly finds Sophie's moral conviction and stubborn resistance disturbing. He can relate to her intelligence, her attractiveness, determination and self-destructive honesty. Everything except her moral condemnation of Hitler and the Reich. Mohr is like someone who knows the emperor is naked but is shocked when someone says it out loud. The acting in these scenes is simply superb, we see Sophie's sheer naked courage and idealistic conviction shake Mohr's blind unquestioning conformity. Only to be retrenched behind blank, dead, unthinking eyes.
The excellent Julia Jentsch (The Edukators and Downfall) plays brilliantly the intelligent, idealistic Sophie with her absolute commitment to justice and freedom. She moves towards her death through a system reminiscent of a strictly run, aseptic hospital. And at every step of the way, we see ordinary people, trapped in a nightmare they can see but not change. Each finds a way to show Sophie their empathy; from the communist prisoner staying alive by working for her jailors to the warderess who bends the rules to allow the three condemned young people a final cigarette and hug of comfort before their execution.
A great strength of the movie is that Sophie's religious faith is shown but left entirely personal. Both in her interrogation and sham trial, she appeals to moral principle and humanity not religious belief, in her defence of freedom and her refusal to be silent in the face of injustice.
This film is as unsettling as it is moving. It makes one ask - how many of us in similar circumstances, would have the courage to stand against the sheer weight of social conformity reinforced by an atmosphere of fear and an implacable application of lethal power? Heroism indeed, serving a belief in the ultimate right to personal conscience and the indestructibility of the idea of freedom in justice. The intensely moving photographs of the real Sophie Scholl and White Rose group that close the film give them a final victory over their oppressors. Sixty years after their deaths, their story is told and their memory cherished. It is fitting that such heroism be recognised. If you can seek this one out don't miss it. Inspirational.
OK, first of all. This movie is absolutely not like "the Downfall" (Der
Untergang). Sophie Scholl is way more demanding and exacting. Now, 3
days after I've seen this movie, I still got a feeling of guilt and
concernment in my stomach. In my opinion Sophie Scholl is due to its
precision more like a (replayed) documentary movie than a Drama, which
makes it even more "shocking". This is for sure no light entertainment,
and those, that don't like long conversations or even are not
interested in history, should not watch this movie. This is the main
reason, why Sophie Scholl won't make the transatlantic heap, because
it's too "special". It's a part of German history and requires a
willingness to cope with it.
Marc Rothemund does a very good job on directing this movie, and Julia Jentsch is very convincing. While watching this movie you don't have the feeling that the story is 60 years ago and can't touch you. It makes you feel like you're in the thick of it. And that's why I give a 9/10. Great Movie.
I saw this film on February 14th, 2006 in Indianapolis. I am one of the
judges for the Heartland Film Festival that screens films for their
Truly Moving Picture Award. A Truly Moving Picture "
explores the human
journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive
values of life." Heartland gave that award to this film.
The place and time are Nazi Germany of 1942-43. Germany is starting to have serious war setbacks like their huge loss and immense casualties at Stalingrad, and the allies, consisting of England, the United States, and Russia, are united in the destruction of the Third Reich. Within Germany, the opposition to Hitler, the Gestapo, and fascism is laughably small. Students with mimeograph machines try to educate and motivate other students to rally and protest. These students have to do this clandestinely because their activities are considered high treason and there is no freedom of speech or assembly.
Sophie Scholl and her older brother Hans are caught distributing subversive, anti-Hitler literature. The film focuses on the 21 year old Sophie, and she is NOT the weaker sex. She is interrogated for days and she is a spectrum of people far beyond her years; i.e., young, afraid, conniving, brave, docile, belligerent, religious, tough, tender, mature, etc.
The film is shot in color, but the color is heavily muted and it looks almost black and white. That is appropriate because the film plays as much as a documentary and as it does as a fictional drama. In fact, this story is based on a true story.
We live in a time when the head of Iran thinks the Holocaust didn't happen. It is moving to see that at least some young people in Germany during World War II were ashamed and disgusted by their country's murder of Jews, the mentally ill, gypsies, and women and children of occupied countries.
Sophie's religious beliefs were inspiring. She did not blame her God and she did not feel forsaken. God was simply her strength that she humbly called upon when she needed it most.
This film appears to have been made with a low budget. But, the impact is as powerful as large-budgeted films with similar themes like "Schindler's List" and "A Man For All Seasons." It has been nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Picture this year. And it deserves the nomination.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where there is a listing of past Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
Sophie Scholl, at one point of her trial, tells the judge and his
cronies, as well as the audience of cowards attending the proceedings,
that soon they all will be seating in the place she is now occupying.
History proved her right as most of the same people that condemned her
for treason were proved to be the real traitors.
Marc Rothemund, the director, working on Fred Beinersdorfer's screen play, presents us with a courageous figure, Sophie Scholl, who saw the atrocities the Third Reich was doing to her country and dared to speak about it when confronted by the regime.
Sophie was part of the student's organization, White Rose, that wanted to inform the German people about facts that were never challenged by anyone because of the consequences such action would mean for whoever spoke the truth. Sophie and her brother were instrumental for several pamphlets informing the population about things that the regime's propaganda didn't tell the German people. Sophie mentioned the unmentionable, the extermination of the Jews, and even the elimination of sick children by people gone mad.
The main part of the film involves the interrogation Robert Mohr subjects Sophie as soon as she is arrested. In their exchange Sophie shows an amazing courage and never is seen as being scared of what will happen to her. After she admits to the charges, even Mohr seems to be amazed by her intelligence and resolve.
Julia Jentsch is the main reason for seeing this movie. Ms. Jentsch gives a luminous performance as the woman who challenged the higher ups in charge of her country. Gerald Alexander Held, who is seen as Robert Mohr, makes an impression as the man who questions Sophie's motives and tries to break her spirit. Johanna Gastdorf is seen as the kind Else, who shares a cell with Sophie.
"Sophie Scholl" is an intelligent film that shows a talented director, Marc Rothemund, and a bright young star of the German cinema, Julia Jentsch, in a film about courage and decency during a crazy time where all hope seemed to have disappeared from Germany.
This film is not about the Weisse Rose" (White Rose) resistance group,
nor is it about Sophie Scholl. It sticks very closely to its title, and
only deals with the last days of Sophie Scholl. Having staked out such
a narrow subject, Marc Rothemund is able to narrate the story in great
detail. This allows the use of pauses in the dialogue which add to the
credibility and drama. I read the official version of the interrogation
before seeing the film, and felt that a very good effort had been made
to reconstruct what may have actually happened. I also felt that the
atmosphere which the film conveyed to be entirely plausible for that
time, which I am not old enough to have lived through. For instance,
the characters always seemed to be holding back, and not opening their
feelings to each other.
Because the official version of the interrogation was dictated by Robert Mohr, it is certain to contain many gaps, such as the lines of questioning before reaching Sophie Scholl's quoted replies. The film may have tended to be too dramatic in filling those gaps. It was surely too dramatic in showing so many chance encounters in the various corridors. Perhaps this tendency to over-dramatise was necessary to present the otherwise rather dry historical events. At least the final result was almost believable, in contrast to many films about the past, and it was an improvement on earlier films covering the White Rose, simply because so much more has come to light since they were made.
This is one of the best dramatic reconstructions of historical events that I have seen.
The story of one of the rare opposition movements in Germany during World War II, entitled The White Rose. The story traces the last days of Sophie Scholl, whose moral stature and courage are admirably brought to life. As far as the script, I'll remember more than anything the extraordinarily intelligent dialog between the main character and the policeman interrogating her. This film isn't just a historical reconstruction; it's also a plea against the fanaticism and right-wing extremism against which not only German-speaking countries have to fight. In this sense, this short episode (four days) about life in Munich in February 1943 takes on a universal dimension.
German film is on its way again and this is another example. Sophie
Scholl was a member of the White Rose, who distributed pamphlets
against Hitler at the Munich university in 1943. That was of course
suicide. Gestapo got them.
This is not only a recapitulation. Far from it. There is also a small but strong mini drama between Scholl and the Gestapo interrogator and despite the situation and what in the end can't be avoided, it's not clear who really wins that battle.
Very good acting by Julia Jentsch and Gerald Alexander Held here. A real nightmare and a perverse situation, but still taken out of life. This is not only drama. It is also possible.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was able to see this film at the Berlin Festival this week and I
thought that it was a really, truly magnificent piece of work. It
provoked a large applause after it had finished, however, I think that
this may possibly have been a little bit of a German "pat on the back",
i.e. we are doing what we can to purge the past. However, this does not
detract from the film itself.
The acting was really very good and "Sophie" was certainly a very interesting character to play and was done very well. It is possible to see how, when and why decisions were made, which is all credit to the actress who played her.
The film, of course, deals with very difficult subjects, the show-trial, the tearing up of the truth, basic freedoms etc. and the film handles this very well. There is even time for some humour, two particular bits stick very much in mind, which I am sure any who watch it will agree. Moreover, these points of humour were needed to "lighted" the atmosphere, because it is a rather hard going subject! The police inspector did very well, and was a good little Nazi, the Führer would have been proud of him. But we are also lead perhaps to the possibility that some of the things that Sophie was saying to him may have actually gone in and that it was he, who arranged the final meeting of the condemned. Which is a touching part.
There were tears all around and there were few dry seats (especially with the final goodbye with the parents ("Ich bin stolz auf Euch", "I am proud of you both", really makes a lump come to one's throat!) however I think that we should not cry, nor feel sad, but carry on the torch that they lit further into the future and ensure that, though their lives may have ended, their idea has not.
I am sure that they did, indeed, all meet in eternity (Ewigkeit) And why not?
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