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 »
This tragicomedy is a self-ironic portrait of a young man who drops out of university and ends up wandering the streets of the city he lives: Berlin. The film deals with the desire to ... See full summary »
Jan Ole Gerster
Justus von Dohnányi
Berlin, 1941. Five friends eager to become heroes in an adventure that will change the face of Europe - and that will forever change them as well. Level-headed, highly decorated officer Wilhelm is off to the eastern front with his younger brother Friedhelm, a sensitive dreamer more interested in literature than warfare. Deeply in love with Wilhelm is Charlotte, a young nurse who looks forward to serving in the Wehrmacht, also on the eastern front. While Greta is a talented singer who longs to become another Marlene Dietrich, her Jewish boyfriend Viktor still cannot convince his parents to leave Germany... Valor and courage come to the fore, but also betrayal - of values, beliefs, humanity. Friedhelm turns into a soulless killing machine... Wilhelm deserts his troops and is court-martialed... Charlotte's Nazi ideology crumbles when she betrays a Jewish nurse helping the German army... Greta obtains papers for Viktor's escape by selling herself to an SS colonel. They and millions of ... Written by
Let me begin by stating that my grandfather (a civilian) was executed by the German occupation forces so I know quite a few things about Nazi atrocities. Let me also add that I understand all the negative reviews given by Poles.
That being said... This was a piece a brilliant viewing! I think that it captures the essence of what war can do to people's souls. I do not agree that Germans were portrayed in a positive or neutral light as there were quite a few characters who were corrupt and evil from the beginning. In addition, the tone of the film is depressing from the start even during the time when Nazi Germany was jubilant. I especially liked Friedhelm's character and how he turns from a pacifist to a soulless murderer, only to rediscover his humane side as the end of the war came near and eventually act on this rediscovery at the very end.
As many reviewers pointed out and I can't disagree, the main flaw is the portraying of almost all Poles (except one girl) as antisemitic to put it mildly. Apart from that it does show at least three in a positive light. One of them, the leader of an AK resistance cell stands out as honorable, almost heroic, even if he is flawed. But so are the German characters, and the Russians. So what? This is the true human nature after all!
Technically, the film is also brilliant. I consider the comparison to Band of Brothers (even though they are VERY different in context) to be a great compliment given the fact that this series had a fraction of BoB's budget.
The performances of the main characters ranged from excellent (Tom Schilling) to acceptable. What really strikes me is that nobody has mentioned the second line of characters who were stunning and gave the series much needed depth.
All in all, this is not a documentary about WW2 or the Holocaust. It is not a hero-based mega-budget production like Band Of Brothers. It is however a good story, remarkably well filmed, about five specific Germans during the climax and end of WWII. Watch it as such and I'm certain you will enjoy it!
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