7.4/10
13,060
56 user 62 critic

Before the Fall (2004)

Napola - Elite für den Führer (original title)
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 »

Director:

Dennis Gansel
8 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Riemelt ... Friedrich Weimer
Tom Schilling ... Albrecht Stein
Jonas Jägermeyr Jonas Jägermeyr ... Christoph Schneider
Leon A. Kersten Leon A. Kersten ... Tjaden (as Leon Alexander Kersten)
Thomas Drechsel Thomas Drechsel ... Hefe
Martin Goeres ... Siegfried Gladen
Florian Stetter ... Justus von Jaucher
Devid Striesow ... Vogler
Joachim Bißmeier Joachim Bißmeier ... Anstaltsleiter
Michael Schenk ... Sportlehrer
Justus von Dohnányi Justus von Dohnányi ... Gauleiter Heinrich Stein (as Justus von Dohnàny and Justus von Dohnányi)
Claudia Michelsen ... Frau Stein
Julie Engelbrecht ... Katharina (as Julie Marie Engelbrecht)
Johannes Zirner ... Torben Send
Alexander Held Alexander Held ... Friedrichs Vater
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Storyline

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 enrolls, seeing this as his ticket out of factory life to university and a good salary. During his year in seventh column (fifth form), this innocence is altered as Friedrich encounters hazing, cruelty, death, and the Nazi code. His friendship with Albrecht, the ascetic son of the area's governor, is central to this education; a night in the forest hunting for escaped Russian POWs brings things to a head. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Men Make History. We Make The Men.

Genres:

Drama | Sport | Thriller | War

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

13 January 2005 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Before the Fall See more »

Filming Locations:

Hamburg, Germany See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,036, 9 October 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$144,065, 21 May 2006
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| |

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Parts of the story are based on incident's in the life of Dennis Gansel's grandfather. See more »

Goofs

During Friedrich's glider flight, his helmet is securely strapped at the start but is shown unstrapped a few seconds later. He kept both hands on the glider's yoke. See more »

Quotes

Albrecht Stein: [reading from his essay] "As childish as it sounds, the winter time and the sight of freshly fallen snow always fill us with inexplicable joy. Perhaps because as children, we associated it with Christmas. I always imagine myself the hero who killed dragons, rescued virgins, and freed the world from evil. As we went out yesterday to find the prisoners, I felt like that little boy who wanted to save the world."
Vogler: Albrecht, stop.
Albrecht Stein: But as we returned, I understood that I am part of the evil that I ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Smagsdommerne: Episode #2.10 (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Deserves Academy Award for Best Foreign Film
2 September 2004 | by ridwaneSee all my reviews

I just watched Napola at the Montreal World Film Festival and I was pleasantly surprised. This choice of a random movie turned out to be a real cinematographic gem.

Set during World War II, this movie is about the dilemma and choices of some German teenagers who attend a napola - a special institution for gifted boys to turn them into the Nazi elite. Their days consist of military training and indoctrination; they are forced to lose all pity and become ruthless servants of the Fuhrer.

The story follows the entrance of Friedrich into a napola, the changes that he undergoes and the choices that he makes. Admitted because of his boxing skills, he seizes it as an opportunity to escape his poor working class situation. His best friend at the napola is the Governor's son - sensitive, caring, humane and opposed to Nazi dogma, he is obviously in the wrong place but has no choice but to fulfill his dad's wishes. As their friendship develops, Friedrich struggles between the ideology that the napola is forcing upon him and his friend's pacific beliefs.

This powerful film with excellent acting culminates on the boxing ring as Friedrich fights against the champion from another napola. The scene of the morning practice on the frozen lake left me breathless, while the ending of the grenade throwing session shook me with its passion, despair, and horror.

Another reason why I liked this movie so much is that it is made by Germans; indeed one would expect Hollywood to come up with such a story and that the outcome would be a highly emotional melodrama. I could feel the director disagreeing strongly with the Nazis, but rather than feeling shameful for what his countrymen did 60 years ago, he denounced it. Indeed, Friedrich's ultimate choice should be the choice of the new Germany.

My rating: 9/10


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