Wednesday, November 29, 2006


German film needed fleshing out

By Edward Copeland
I've now seen four of the five nominees for the 2005 Academy Award for foreign language film. I've written about Tsotsi previously and will write about Don't Tell soon. I also saw Paradise Now, but that predated this blog. So far, I think it's fair to say that by picking Tsotsi, the Academy made the right choice.

This isn't to say that Sophie Scholl: The Final Days isn't good — in fact it has lots of things to offer, principally a fine lead performance by Julia Jentsch as the title character and telling a World War II story that I was unfamiliar with. Sophie and her brother Hans (Fabian Hinrichs) were college students and members of The White Rose, an anti-Nazi movement in Germany during Hitler's reign. I'd never known about The White Rose prior to this film — I knew there were opponents to Hitler within Germany, but this group was new to me. In a way, it shows another example of how college activism can change things and questions why the U.S. outcry against the Iraqi debacle hasn't been more pronounced in universities as it was during Vietnam.

Director Marc Rothemund certainly keeps Sophie Scholl moving and if there is much of a flaw to the film it may be that it is too linear. The narrative follows a straight line from the opening incident that gets the Scholls in trouble to their ultimate punishment at the hands of the Nazis.

A better movie might have been made if there were more details about the formation of The White Rose and what led them to their actions: We all know Hitler was evil, but what clued these students in that other Germans missed?

Jentsch's performance and the Cliff's Notes version of an underreported historical chapter makes the movie worthwhile.

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Was there another film made about the White Rose, about 10 years ago?
Oh, yes--Michael Verhoeven made a film in 1982 called The White Rose, starring Lena Stolze. Verhoeven made The Nasty Girl, which I saw ages ago and really liked. Wonder if it holds up.
I saw The Nasty Girl years ago and liked it quite a lot but I'm not familiar with the 1982 film.
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