Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Napola - Elite für den Führer

Napola refers to elite military National-Political Schools, set up to train promising young German talents into potential future leaders for the Third Reich - Man makes History, but Napola makes the Man. Set at the peak of Hitler's Nazi regime in 1942, this film explores the very different lives of two youths enrolled in such a school, and exposes some of the difficult training programme that these youths are put through.

Friedrich Weimer graduated as a Hitler youth, and spends time juggling work with boxing. Impressing a talent scout with his boxing skills, he gets recruited into one of the Napola schools, to be trained as an athlete to bring the school glory. Coming from a poor home, he sees this as a chance to bring wealth for this family, although they disagree with his joining the Napola.

Albrecht Stein is the son of the governor. What he lacked in the brawn department, he makes up with his gift for the written word, which often goes unappreciated, even with his parents.

Two youths from different backgrounds bond together as good friends, as they undergo the tough regimental training the school has to offer. At times, it's like Dead Poet's Society in a WWII German military setting, where they challenge and subtly question the establishment and their methods. Even though the school is made up of a recruited pool of the privileged few, basic evils of man persists, like corruption and jealous rivalry.

The different subplots and set action pieces unravel our protagonists' characters, and we see them develop in depth. From a wide-eyed promising talent, we journey with Friedrich as he slowly comes to terms with evaluating if one should sell out one's beliefs for fame and wealth, blinding the disappointment faced in the system. Albrecht, while meek looking, held on to his ideals, especially after a sad episode in the fields, and when being forced into a corner to renounce this ideal, found untold courage to actually do what he did, at the expense of everything else - friendship, family.

Which brings us to question, how many of us, if knowing what's right, will do the right thing, or take the easy way out and turn our backs towards the truth? We are also exposed to the highly fanatical training methods of the Nazis, of showing no pity, and signs of cowardice are treasonous.

Those who've undergone some form of army training will appreciate the nature of military training - from the physical exercises, punishments, and stand-by-bunks, to the bonding of bunk mates and "suffering" under the hands of sadistic superiors.

It is no surprise that Napola won various awards for film, acting and direction, It's rich cinematography and haunting soundtrack brings to life Nazi Germany of 1942, and highlighting the horrors of the training of an elitist school of soldiers and future governors, with its expected training tragedies.

This is a movie with powerful themes, with an introspective look at the development of man under difficult fanatical regimes revealed in a moving drama.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...