Greetings again from the darkness. When war hits close to home, the
grieving of surviving family members never ends. At the end of World
War II, author Hans Fallada was given access to the Gestapo file of
Otto and Elise Hampel. Fallada wrote a 1947 novel based on their story,
and in 2009 it was translated to English for his bestseller "Every Man
Dies Alone". Director Vincent Perez collaborated with Achim von Borries
and Bettine von Borries to adapt the novel for the big screen.
Otto (Brendan Gleeson) and Elise (Emma Thompson) play a mostly quiet, working class couple who pay the ultimate price for a cause in which they don't believe. Their protest takes the form of a clandestine 2 person operation. They systematically distribute postcards with anti-Hitler messages nearly 300 of the cards between 1940 and 1942. It's a drip campaign that takes the form of non-violent political resistance, and certainly rankles those of the Third Reich.
Daniel Bruhl plays Escherich, the Nazi officer put in charge of the investigation (labeled Operation: Hobgoblin). He is charged with finding the source of the cards and punishing those responsible. As the hunt drags on, Escherich is presented as a Nazi with a conscience, and bears the brunt of his superior's frustration, while living in as much fear as those he is chasing.
The film has a somber tone, and somehow never generates the tension or dread that this couple must have been dealing with on a daily basis for so long. In fact, Alexandre Desplat's score seems to fit a movie much more intense than what we are watching on screen. Mr. Gleeson delivers his usual grounded and believable performance despite a script that could have used a bit more potency. The film does deliver the always powerful message of having no regrets when you are standing up for what's right.
Alone in Berlin
Action / Drama
Alone in Berlin
Action / Drama
In 1940, German soldier Hans Quangel is killed in action during the French campaign. His parents, Otto and Anna, are devastated by the loss and their bereavement is unmollified by the joyful hysteria at Germany's victory. Deciding that Fuhrer Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime are responsible for this tragedy and much more, Otto cannot stand by any longer. As such, Otto begins to create handwritten cards denouncing the regime's abuses and lies, which he secretly deposits throughout Berlin while a disillusioned Anna insists on helping him. As the subversive cards pile up over the years, police detective Escherich is tasked to track down the leafleteer while being pressured by his increasingly impatient SS superior for an arrest for this "treason," regardless of actual guilt. As the stakes rise even as Nazi Germany's day of reckoning approaches, Otto and Anna are determined to spread the truth regardless of the odds even as their opposition awaits the fatal mistake that could doom them.
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June 17, 2017 at 05:39 PM