Sanctuary (2015) Poster


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How much pain and suffering fits into 100 minutes?
Horst_In_Translation29 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"Freistatt" or "Sanctuary" is a German 100-minute movie from last year (2015). For director Marc Brummond and his co-writer Nicole Armbruster, it is probably the most known work of their career so far. But the cast includes some names that have also appeared in more famous project. This refers to lead actor Louis Hofmann, who recently starred in "Die Mitte der Welt", and a couple others I will talk about later on. As for Hofmann, I have no idea why he is being pushed into a role where people want to see him as the next big thing from Germany in terms of acting. I personally feel that he has very little range and his physical acting (in terms of body language and face expressions) feels virtually the exact limited approach in basically every film he is in. And it seems they always write him characters that have to suffer a lot throughout the films. Too bad, he just can't pull it off. So in my opinion, he is one of the reasons why this film here became as bad as it eventually did. Supporting performances here come from prolific actors like Max Riemelt, Alexander Held and Uwe Bohm (from the German Bohm dynasty that has made quite an impact for a long time already), who plays a violent father again, just like he does in faith Akin's new film "Tschick".

As for the story, it is very uninspired in my opinions. The problem of the male protagonist at his home are generic and the acting is weak. It's a story and approach that has been done many times, and most of the times a lot better. Then the boy has to go to a boarding school and this is when the film really hits rock-bottom. The events depicted there have absolutely nothing to do with reality and it is impossible that a school like this would exist for more than a couple weeks before somebody intervenes and closes it immediately, maybe puts the head of this institution behind bars. But this is not what happens here. Here we have the violence go over to the young men in there and they start tormenting each other. So yeah, this film is packed with physical and psychological torture, abuse and humiliation from start to finish. The only purpose I see when it comes to the filmmaker's motivation is probably to shock the audience as much as possible in these slightly over 1.5 hours. And hope that the incompetent audience members do not realize that the film lacks any realism and authenticity altogether. Oh yeah, sexual abuse is a part of the film as well, why miss out on that opportunity right? It's almost offensive to victims of sexual abuse and how this film really mocks them with his absurd story lines. And of that isn't bad enough already, lets just throw in an incestuous relationship between mother and son if there is any member left in the audience that isn't disgusted yet by the action. I know I am. Especially because films like this one do not even get made, but also score awards attention that may motivate more filmmakers in the future to come up with garbage like this. 2 stars out of 10 is basically 2 too many. One of the worst films of 2015 for sure and I suggest you stay far far away.
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searchanddestroy-123 May 2020
I discovered this gem on Arte channel yesterday. Well, this is not SCUM, nor LES HAUTS MURS either but that remains a powerful indictment against boarding school, jailhouses for teens and showing how awful bullying behaviors can drive anyone to the worst extremities. You have already seen this kind of features before but that doesn't prevent you to appreciate this terrific authentic piece of work. Not for all audiences.
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Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child
yusufpiskin30 December 2020
What should I say...cried when Rising Sun came out. Wolfgang's dreams, his family, friends, and his normal life were gone. Freistatt is like a smelter, melting the stubbornness and persistence, till the end only desperation survives...Fortunately they escaped from it finally, burying this memory with their past identities. New life would come, I just hope......

Just beginning my weekend with a German movie about a boy with an Oedipus Complex getting abused and tortured at a reform school. I like to start things off light with true stories like this and work my up to the darker stuff. The Germans have some mighty fine actors cuz I was really wanting to see some of these characters six feet under. The main kid was played by Louis Hoffman who was like 16 or 17 and delivers a powerhouse performance. I was seriously impressed. I saw him previously in that Netflix series Dark and a gay coming of age movie called Center of My World and he's definitely a brave actor and one to watch.
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Swamp Thing
Karl Self17 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie in a preview for teachers. It deals with a borstal in West Germany the late 1960ies. And basically every crass image that this subject might evoke from you, it's in this movie. Plus a few more. The protagonist, Wolfgang, is sent there because his mother has a new husband and wants him out of the way. Of course, the home is like a gulag, and Wolfgang is tortured every which way. After he is beaten up on his arrival by the bigger boys, another boy, Anton, offers him cookies for protection. Why? It doesn't work the other way round! Later, Anton steals a photograph of Wolfgang's mother and very publicly jacks off to it. Why, oh why? Who does that? A bit later, Wolfgang has an erotic dream about his own mother. What the? What's going on here? The boys are beaten, forced to do hard labour in the swamp, and starved. The sun never shines. One of the boys has a homosexual relationship with one of the minders. The headmaster constantly rides around on his horse as if he was one of the Southron slavekeepers in Django Unchained (the rest of the time he's pruning his vegetables like Hannibal Lecter on furlough). Then, when all hope is lost, another cliché arrives: The foxy headmaster's daughter. In another attempt to crassen up ("to crassen up" = "to make even more crass in order to compensate for storytelling") the plot, Wolfgang eventually almost rapes her.

This is essentially an exploitation movie, without the fun.
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richardkassir3 November 2020
A powerful story of cruelty that takes place in a type of privately run and religion based 'borstal'. These places existed in Germany in the 1960's where 'difficult' kids were sent and their placements were paid for by their middle-class parents - no crime necessary. The bullying, violence and lack of accountability became a national scandal. Superb acting by everyone.
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If you doubt the authenticity of this film...
g_imdb-4312 March 2020
Check out Wolfgang Petersen's 1977 film "The Consequence" (currently free at Amazon) which tells a very similar story of how parents could commit their "incorrigible" teens to these brutal institutional schools.

And if you make it to the end of "Sanctuary," you'll see that the German government has admitted these things were happening, and has paid restitution to some of the victims.
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An important movie - but not for everyone
Zachaban18 September 2015
I only live a few miles away from Freistatt, Germany, and at least regionally the movie got some attention. "Freistatt" deals with a topic that is not often dealt with in movies, chose original locations for filming and lists some very able actors (Max Riemelt, Alexander Held) in its cast.

There is no fluff or filler in this movie, no boredom coming up. But while it is a good "time piece" in the sense that it gives you a good idea what it was like in that particular time and situation, there is no plot that is strong enough to really hold the movie together.

Ultimately, I would only recommend it to those who are curious about or have any connection to those failures of the education system that existed for way too long.
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Truth about the way kids are treated by a Sadist world
idaaning17 July 2017
Thanks Brummund for such an excellent work. There should be more such courageous people who can tell the truth at the face of a super-hypocrite society in which we live. We live in a society which has no shortage of Sadists and very unfortunately children are the softest sufferer. I spent a year and half in a Missionary School in West Bengal, Kolkata. I was luckier than Wolfgang because my mother protected me, she did listen to me when I came home for summer vacations and complained that I will die if I go back to the mission. The film is actually so realistic, unlike what many reviewers here feel. I know that because I had been in a similar institution, though thousands of kilometres away. I remember how cruel had been many people in my locality after I returned from the coveted missionary school. There were many who asked why I returned, some suggested that I was kicked out. So I can understand why Wolfgang hit the neighbour he met on the street after he left him home without meeting his mother. Rest assured that such terrible places are still there in almost every country and will be there as long as we don't properly learn to treat others of our own species respectfully.
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English Sub title Still watch
SpencerDecaturGA17 March 2019
I am learning that foreign films can be awesome. The subject is disturbing yet I couldn't stop watching.
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Powerful movie... So realistic... But many people are so naive....
thierrybarras23 August 2017
I'm write for the first time, because this movie took me to the guts, is so powerful to show how the Human race are bad...

I'm live in Switzerland, and in the 70'S same thing happens in my countries... So many young are suffer of child abuse, free violence and death, it is reality, not just a movie...

The Switzerland state has apologized for what it is to pass in the 70s only in 2015, and yet enormously young people who have passed through these camps are still today marked in blood...

I'm shocked to read the comment of Thomas in this tread, so naive and non-constructive, I thought this poor guy have never see the reality of the world we live... For a German guy it is a crook...

I have finally to say, Hitler has better treat his Hitlerian youth than the German government did after the war, it is sad...

Do not listen to the negative comments or say that it is exaggerating, they have not understood anything in life...

look without hesitation this Powerful movie but hard and realistic on a part of the German history which they should not be proud of...
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Primal brutality
dertypmitdembein10 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is the first movie review I am writing in my life. I am writing it because none of the reviews I read (after watching the film) seem to grasp the primal emotions the movie conveyed for me. I feel so weird about this. I actually have the impression some of the reviewers are not able to feel the abyssal anti-pedagogic methods in all their bleakness and brutality. Could it be that they simply are not able to open themselves for this sort of raw, unprocessed emotion?

This movie caught me completely unprepared, and may be that's why it left such an impact on me. I just switched on the TV and the movie popped up, showing the scene where Wolfgang, the protagonist, is standing around naked with his clothing in his hands. Now I am expecting to hear the screams of Wolfgang in my head for days.

Most people seem to criticize two things: 1.) The predictable story-line. 2.) The exaggerated portrayal of the life at Freistatt.

As to 1.) Yes. It is predictable at times. I only needed few seconds to recognize the direction the movie was gonna lead to. However, when Wolfgang was buried alive, I was shocked. I didn't think he'd survive (spoiler: he did so because it was a planned action, he got un-buried before he suffocated). I also liked the ending. It was not a happy ending, it was not a cruel ending, it was a right ending. What Wolfgang experienced was too cruel to not traumatize him. At the end he was free, but I could tell that he would never be able to lead a normal life.

As to 2.) I don't know how much the movie sticks to the actual events, or whether or not it does them justice. (I am also wondering: How much do the other reviewers know about this? Have they been there? If not, which knowledge enables them to make a judgment like that?) I don't have the feeling that this is what the movie is about anyway. Not at a single point the movie felt like a historic documentation to me, but like a story about a boy with an instinct for freedom, fighting against an oppressive system. At points, it almost felt like a miniature 1984 to me, especially regarding the circumstance that Wolfgang's drive for freedom was finally broken - after his mother let him down and he got buried alive. Nevertheless he made the right decision and didn't return to his mother at the end.

This is not a movie to analyze and think about much. It's a movie to feel and connect with your instincts. Reviewers who filter it by looking at it through their abstract glasses are missing its essence. And I feel inclined to suspect they don't have a healthy connection to their primal instincts themselves. I know one should avoid becoming personal, but I just can't say otherwise.

Much respect to Louis Hofmann, who did a splendid job as Wolfgang.
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This film will leave you speechless
varthur-2472011 September 2019
This film is a fast-paced emotional roller-coaster that will tear you heart apart with it's brutality. This is not one of those "sit back and relax" films that makes you drop a tear at the end. This one is emotionally challenging, uncomfortable and difficult to watch and will leave you overwhelmed and speechless, but still will make you watch it until the end by showing you that there is still a glimpse of hope. This film is certainly not for everyone, although you should at least try watching it.
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Worth watching to know part of the education system in DE after WW2
torreslukx29 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is an awesome and touching movie overall. The description at the beginning and end of the movie makes it more clear about how such kind of juvenile schools existed throughout the past half century in west Germany. As for the plot, I do think there are some tiny flaws such as Wolfgang's black pal traded cookies and cigarettes with him for protection, however it doesn't make much sense in the rest of the movie. And the whole film is ironic---People who fight for FREEDOM at the beginning are looked on coldly by others and failed, and other people who look coldly upon those freedom fighters achieved their own freedom in the end.
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