A Roma boy is placed in a mental hospital and experiences the Nazi euthanasia program. Aware of what was happening and attached to friends, the lad attempts to sabotage the program. The ...
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A Roma boy is placed in a mental hospital and experiences the Nazi euthanasia program. Aware of what was happening and attached to friends, the lad attempts to sabotage the program. The film addresses the complexities of the program director, the lives of the child victims, and the struggles of the child protagonist. More than five thousand children were killed in the Nazi euthanasia program.Written by
... given that German films on the subject usually let you feel somewhat detached. Whenever the Holocaust is concerned, German filmmakers tend to try to do everything according to the book, as meticulously factual as possible, so viewers can easily feel lectured.
There is a good deal of that strife for perfection in here as well, as a whole lot of neglected issues are crammed into this one film: the Nazi euthanasia program involving feeding patients nutrition-less food called "Ersatzkost", substitute nourishment. The silent acquiescence of the Catholic church to mass murder carried out in institutions under their formal patronage. The lumping together of all kinds of "undesirables" labeled mentally unfit to live. And in the guise of the lead, the still unfilmed "Porrajmos" (which means "devouring"), the destruction of much of Europe's Romani population no one cares about until today.
It's all a bit much and doesn't help the narrative structure, but there is a lot to learn, even for those who've seen a good deal of films about the subject. Apart from "Schindler's List", hardly any film explains the ideology and motivation behind these crimes. The extremely fascinating - while sickening - quality of this film is that it shows doctors and nurses murdering children without any malice, all in the name of the "greater cause" of racial purity. As incredibly inhumane this seems to the viewer - and the sole heroine of the story, a catholic nun - the sources from that time indicate that this was indeed how the culprits thought. Sebastian Koch, whom I usually find rather wooden, brings this uncanny mix of "scientific" curiosity and complete lack of conscience perfectly across. It's his best film, better than "The Lives of Others".
What this film is not is the heavily overdue film about the persecution of gypsies. It's misleading to call the protagonist Ernst Lossa a Rom, he was a Jenische, they are non-ethnic travellers like in Ireland and don't speak Romanes. They mostly reside in Switzerland, where Jenische children were taken away from their families to "socialize" them until 1968... as you see, there remain many, many more stories to tell.
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