In November 1939, Georg Elser's attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler fails, and he is arrested. During his confinement, he recalls the events leading up to his plot and his reasons for deciding to take such drastic action.
The breath-taking story of a man who nearly would have changed the world. 1939, when Hitler convinced millions of people at the height of his power, one said a radical No: Georg Elser, disparaged as an assassin, is one of the greatest resistance fighters.Written by
I was lucky enough to see this film on the big screen during the brief period that it played locally. I didn't know any more about it than the basic subject, and I'm glad about that, because the film got some strangely negative reviews in the U.S. Some critics seemed to complain that it wasn't a Jason-Bourne-style thriller. Instead, it's a careful portrait of one man, and shows how both he and his village were changed by political events in their country.
I was surprised to find out the movie was originally released in Germany in 2015, because it included so many events that are happening in 2017 America: left-vs-right street violence, religious intolerance, disagreements about which party represents workers, and government officials who think torture is the best way to get the truth.
The photography is beautiful and the storytelling clear but unusual. For example, an explosion is shown from a far-off POV, as a small part of a beautiful landscape shot, instead of up close to the blast. The production design is thoroughly convincing (though I may not be a perfect judge of the authenticity of period films set in Germany), and the settings are lifelike. When a character swims in a lake, it reminds you of just what that feels like. The violence works that way, too. Though it's not gruesomely detailed and exposed in a Tarantino kind of way, you'll probably feel it more.
The acting is excellent overall. The leading actor comes across as more babyfaced and less worldly than the real Georg Elser, just judging by their respective looks, but he creates a memorable character that is never a stereotype, yet is not merely a movie eccentric. Though the brutality of the Nazis' actions is never toned down, there are still moments when some of them display a believably human sense of doubt. A minor character has his own complete arc, from downtrodden village man to local Nazi leader to someone unsure if the party has gone too far. I completely disagree with one reviewer who thought the movie was too sentimental. It doesn't lionize even its main protagonist, and shows the problematic aspects of his violent political act.
Afterward, I read about the real Georg Elser, and I was disappointed at a few of the fictional changes. I was sorry they cut out the character of Georg's sister Maria, who seems to have been important in real life, and since everything is seen through Georg's eyes, and he has limited knowledge, and we don't hear about some of the other people the Nazis persecuted and even murdered after the bombing. But you can read about this. I never would have known the story was worth investigating further if I hadn't seen this compelling film.
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