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
Harrowing Account of the Experiments of a Truly Malign Person
Filmed in the rolling landscapes of Patagonia, Argentina, WAKOLDA is a truly harrowing story of the Nazi doctor who continued to practice his experiments well after the Second World War had ended.
In exile and among a group of Nazi sympathizers, Josef Mengele (Àlex Brendemühl) lives under an assumed name, and ingratiates himself with a family running a hotel. Befriending the young daughter Lilith (Florencia Bado) he claims to be able to increase her growth and thereby prevent her from being teased at school for being the smallest in the class. She readily agrees; as do her parents. This provides the pretext for Mengele to continue his macabre researches that actually do more harm than good.
Lucía Puenzo's film contrasts the domestic world of Lilith with the world of the Nazi sympathizers congregating in a local German school. They still practice the salute, and forge a regimented atmosphere guaranteed to impose order on the unwilling learners. Lilith is sent to the school, in the hope of receiving a good education - although remaining largely unaffected by Nazi ideology, she is made painfully aware of her lack of height, which only encourages her to seek Mengele's help even more.
Set in 1960, WAKOLDA draws a direct parallel between Mengele's work and the doll-manufacturing practiced by Lilith's father Enzo (Diego Peretti). At first Enzo makes all the toys himself; but with Mengele's investment the venture is transformed into a small cottage industry, where all the dolls' faces are identical and they are given tiny mechanized beating hearts. We are made painfully aware that Mengele treats humanity with just the same indifference as the factory workers treat their dolls - as material for experimentation rather than living breathing personae.
The film maintains a cool, detached tone throughout; although Israeli agents pursue Mengele with the same enthusiasm as with other ex- Nazis (notably Adolf Eichmann), they fail to capture him. But this is not really the film's concern: director Puenzo is far more concerned with Mengele's terrible plausibility as a practicing doctor taking unwitting victims into his confidence and subsequently abusing them.
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