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Patagonia, 1960. A German doctor (Alex Brendemühl) meets an Argentinean family and follows them on a long desert road to a small town where the family will be starting a new life. Eva (Natalia Oreiro), Enzo (Diego Peretti) and their three children welcome the doctor into their home and entrust their young daughter, Lilith (Florencia Bado), to his care, not knowing that they are harboring one of the most dangerous criminals in the world. At the same time, Israeli agents are desperately looking to bring THE GERMAN DOCTOR to justice. Based on filmmaker Lucía Puenzo's (XXY) fifth novel, the story follows Josef Mengele, the "Angel of Death," a German SS officer and a physician at the Auschwitz concentration camp, in the years he spent "hiding", along with many other Nazi's, in South America following his escape from Germany. Mengele was considered to be one of WWII's most heinous Nazi war criminals. Written by
Well worth seeing--just don't expect a happy ending.
"The German Doctor" is an Argentinean film based on real events. Interestingly, the man who wrote the novel, Lucía Puenzo, also wrote the screenplay, produced AND directed this movie. It's also really worth your time, as Puenzo shows a very deft hand helming this interesting picture.
The story is set in Argentina in 1960*. A family has decided to move into the Patagonian countryside and open up a bed guesthouse. Their first customer is a handsome and genial German man who is very easy to like. The daughter in particular spends a lot of time with this man. This is because he is a doctor and claims he might be able to help the girl. After all, although she's 12, she appears to be about 9 years- old and the kids at school make fun of her because of this. With the mother's permission, the good doctor tests out his new formula which might help her to grow. They have no idea exactly what he's giving her, but the formula does seem to help. In addition, since the doctor is such a nice man, he offers to help the pregnant mother who soon learns from the doctor that she's going to have twins. Unfortunately, it turns out that the doctor isn't who he says he is...he's Joseph Mengele-- the notoriously evil Nazi who worked at Auschwitz. And why was he so notorious? Because he performed all sorts of ungodly experiments on people...and his subjects of choice were twins. And, according to the film, his wicked experiments continued long after the war had ended.
While I would love to tell you that the film has a happy ending**, it didn't. After all, this psychopath was one of the most important Nazi war criminals to escape prosecution. So, if you are the type that expects or needs a happy ending, then you just might want to pick another movie. Nevertheless, it is exquisitely crafted and not excessively sad nor graphic--at least in regard to what you see and hear during the course of the film. It's much more thought- provoking than anything else--and a movie that is well worth your time.
*Although I loved the film, the attention to period detail was poor. The film was set in 1960 but many of the cars are late 1960s vintage. **My daughter saw this in the theater and was shocked to hear several people complain about the film because it did not have a happy ending. I hate to think that they wanted them to change history and have the doctor captured and shot. While satisfying, this just isn't what happened to the guy!
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