In the last moments of World War II, a young German soldier fighting for survival finds a Nazi captain's uniform. Impersonating an officer, the man quickly takes on the monstrous identity of the perpetrators he is trying to escape from.
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The Captain follows Willi Herold (Max Hubacher), a German army deserter who stumbles across an abandoned Nazi captain's uniform during the last, desperate weeks of the Third Reich. Newly emboldened by the allure of a suit that he stole only to stay warm, Willi discovers that many Germans will follow the leader, whosoever that happens to be. A parade of fresh atrocities follow in the self-declared captain's wake, and serve as a profound reminder of the consequences of social conformity and untrammeled political power. Simultaneously a historical docudrama, a tar-black comedy, and a sociological treatise, The Captain presents fascism as a pathetic pyramid scheme, a system to be gamed by the most unscrupulous and hollow-souled.Written by
Music Box Films
Considering Robert Schwentke's previous movies, I don't think he was the right director for this film. I didn't particularly like his past work, and DER HAUPTMANN makes no difference. It is obviously a story worth being told, since the script is based on true events and Willi Herold did in fact exist and commit all those crimes depicted here, but the movie is extremely inconsistent and doesn't know what it wants to be.
The first scene right away felt very odd, with the "Feldgendarmerie" (basically military police) chasing Herold, simultaneously shooting, shouting and playing a trumpet. The depiction of events continues like that, in some scenes deadly serious and in others very grotesque and satirical, and it doesn't match well. Schwentke should have just sticked to one tone and went with it. Especially in the last act, when the main event is already over, the story goes completely nuts, with the main characters partying and apparently forgetting the war surrounding them.
You also never get an authentic feeling of World War II being in its last phase. I can't even specify what exactly I felt offputting, but the film just doesn't convey an authentic atmosphere. Especially the first part of the movie felt quite cheap and "acted".
This leads me to my biggest problem, which was the depiction of Herold's character, whose motivation remained very unclear and whose decisions just didn't make a whole lot of sense. I know that the core story here actually happened, but the portrayal of the main character's actions in the film just isn't consequent. At first he obviously just wants to escape death when dressing up as a captain, then he suddenly turns into a complete psychopath within a day or so. At least that's what his horrific actions are depicted as: the actions of a psychopath, who suddenly has full command. But Max Hubacher's acting just doesn't convey that. I don't know if the problem lies in the script or in his acting to be honest, probably a little of both.
To sum it up, this film was a mess tonally as well as story-wise. I know what Schwentke was trying to do, showing the problematic nature of power relations and the exploitation of those. But the result just felt weird and, most importantly for a story like that, it just didn't feel authentic and hence doesn't do the real victims of Herold justice.
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