Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sophie Scholl - The Final Days

Viva La Resistance!

If recent memory serves me correct, the number of German movies making their way here seem to be set only during WWII. With Napola and Downfall, we see plenty of youths either aspiring to be part of the elite, or are fervent members of the Nazi Youth.

Sophie Scholl tells a different story of a minority of German youths who actually were part of a resistance group called the White Rose, against the Nazi Regime. The Scholl siblings Sophie and Hans were part of this group, and this story tells of their (well, actually the focus is on her) final days during which they were caught in their zealous attempt at distributing their anti-war propaganda bulletins in school.

As with all resistance fighters, they choose to take up arms, but here with their mightier pens, writing incriminating and treasonous (during those times) points about the downfall of the regime and Hitler's mistake in marching towards Russia. And a litmus test of ideals is always surviving (or not) the interrogation and imprisonment as you get drilled and questioned to give up more names of fellow conspirators.

Winner of the Silver Bear in the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival for Best Director and Best Actress, it's no surprise to see why. Julia Jentsch, as Sophie, puts up a brilliant performance as you can feel her steely resolve in her beliefs, while inside she's crumbling and is actually afraid (who wouldn't?). You feel her small triumphs during her battle of wills and ideals with her interrogator Robert Mohr (Gerald Alexander Held), her hopes and dreams while in her prison cell, and her fears for the safety of her parents. She brings all that through with remarkable believability.

There's actually a nice soundtrack which accompanies certain scenes, and puts you right in the mood of things with the building of anxiety, but much of the movie seemed to be devoid of all things musical, so that you won't be distracted from the heated words exchanged during the standoff between two extreme ideologies. And especially an eye-opener would be how the People's Court is conducted, with open trials meaning audiences made up of members of the Nazi war machinery, and the judge being the loud mouthed crusader who insults you using the perfected hairdryer effect.

So for those keen at having another point of view of what happened within Nazi Germany, about a group of staunch resistance fighters personified by Sophie Scholl, then look no further, this movie is for you.

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