Sophie Scholl -- The Final Days
When I was 12 or so I read a book called The Short Life of Sofie Scholl
, and it made such an impression I still feel caught up in it 15 years (oh my) later. When I heard a film was being made I had the unsettling conflicting feeling that consists of raw enthusiasm and trepidation -- it is a story worth telling, but I did not want to see it mishandled.
Sophie Scholl was 21 years old when she was executed in February 1943, together with her brother and a friend. They were all members of the White Rose (die Weiße Rose), an anti-Nazi movement, based in the philosophy department of the University in Munich, which used non-violent means like the distribution of leaflets to fight the totalitarian regime. You can read more about them here
My fears for the film were unfounded. It contained good acting, excellent photography, beautiful colours, and horror just outside. The horror of it was particularly effective because it wasn't the main focus. It was always present, but subtle. I don't quite now how to explain it. It was not dwelt on, as I would expect it to be in a Hollywood version (I am sure one will come along any day now), but hovered around the strong red colours and the silence and the low tones, the restraint of the main character.
I think of German as a hard language. And whenever Germans are angry, it is. But this film also underscored how it can be a quiet, low key language, one which is more wind-like than rock-like. The good guys spoke quietly, the bad guys shouted. It was all about quiet dignity and having right on your side.
I kept catching myself hoping she would get out of it, that she would convince them she was innocent, that they would all be all right. All the while knowing it wouldn't. This wavering back and forth between hope and reality was very effective; affective, even. It made it possible to watch it without being drained of energy in the face of certain doom.
There have been a few films lately in which the resistance to Hitler in Germany has been the main focus. I'd wager much that this one is better than Valkyrie
It should certainly be watched. It is worth your time.