Die Letzten Tage (2005)
Sophie Scholl

An independent language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

Based on actual events, Sophie Scholl is about a tiny group of German students known as The White Rose, who joined together in their mutual hatred of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. They aired their views by printing leaflets and passing them to German citizens. The film focuses on Sophie (Julia Jentsch), a 21-year-old member of The White Rose.

Set in Munich in 1943, Sophie and her brother Hans (Fabian Hinrichs), co-founder of The White Rose,  distribute leaflets on their campus. They have until the bell rings but Sophie decides to distribute a leftover stack of leaflets and consequently gets caught, arrested and accused of high treason. Sister and brother are separated and the film primarily concentrates on the interrogation of Sophie by Mohr (Gerald Alexander Held), a Gestapo interrogator who is convinced that Germany needs Nazi policies. Sophie denies everything and is offered a deal by the Gestapo, she must name the other members of the White Rose and incriminate them. She refuses which leads to an appointment with a Gestapo judge (André Hennicke) who sentences Sophie, Hans and another member of   The White Rose, Christoph Probst (Florian Stetter) to death.

Sophie Scholl is tragic yet an insight into what was a tragic and almost unbelievable time for all those involved. Never has a film made me think more. With fantastic direction and superb actors, this film is a definite  must for both history lovers and language film fans alike.

In German with English subtitles.

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Der Untergang (2005)

An independent language advantage film review by Emmanuel Lainé

Berlin, April 1945. The Third Reich is holding its last breath. Berlin is under fire from the Russian Army and Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) is hiding in the depth of his bunker. Those left by his side are his wife to-be, Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler), his secretary Traudl Junge, as well as the surviving part of the Third Reich Army. Together they will live the last few days with Hitler and the downfall of the Nazi regime.

Based on the true story novel by Joachim Fest ‘The last days of Hitler’, this representation of Hitler on the cinema screen has been described as the most unique and truthful experience of the real man. Bruno Ganz (as Hitler) worked for months on mimicking Hitler’s voice and is magnificent in his role, giving the character real substance and authenticity. The last days are a condensed and concentrated description of the falling apart of the Third Reich but where their atrocious beliefs still persist. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (‘Das Experiment’ – 2002), ‘Downfall’ is the fruit of authentic German cinema making no judgement and without cynicism or arrogance. As Oliver Hirschbiegel said himself: ‘Nobody can forbid German people to talk about their own history, apart from ourselves’. This movie is a definite must-see.

BAFTA winner 2005 Best Foreign Movie. In German with English subtitles.

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Goodbye Lenin! (2002)

An independent language advantage film review by Sarah Maddocks

Goodbye Lenin! is a film depicting the relationship between love and politics.

The film begins in 1989, a young man, Alex (Daniel Bruhl) protests against the capitalist regime and consequently gets arrested. His mother (Katrin SaÃ?) seeing this suffers from a heart attack and falls into a coma. Eight months later she wakes from the coma completely unaware of the changes that East Germany has experienced. As  any form of shock is likely to make her relapse into her coma,  Alex creates a false Germany where socialism has won and the Berlin wall is still standing. As the film develops so does the lie and consequently turns into a major scam to keep his mother from finding out the truth about the things she believes in so much.

Goodbye Lenin! is a fantastic portrayal of a political love story, showing the protective relationship between mother and son, and how far people are willing to go to protect the ones they love. Goodbye Lenin! was the winner of the Best European Film award at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival.

A must see for everyone, German-speaking or not! In German with subtitles.

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Lola Rennt (1998)
Run Lola Run

An independent language advantage film review by Sophie Paterson

The pounding techno soundtrack adds a good dose of hardly-needed adrenaline to this fast-paced and clever thriller about a girl who has 20 minutes to run – literally – against the clock to get her petty-criminal boyfriend out of some serious trouble. It’s punky, funky, shot like a music video for MTV, and edgy. It’s also told three times; each version hinging on something so very slightly different, thus igniting a new chain of events involving the same characters, incidents, objects and places – and a different set of outcomes. If any film demonstrates how our lives are all woven inextricably together or how our fates are governed by half chance and random moments, this is definitely it. The tagline for the film summarises this: ‘Every second of every day you’re faced with a decision that can change your life’.

The German is not too difficult, particularly as this is not a particularly  talky film. Having said that, some viewers might have trouble with the rapid-fire German young people-speak at the beginning.

In German with English subtitles.

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