I went to see Sophie Scholl, die letzten Tage this afternoon. The film was one of the highly lauded ones at the Berlinale, winning a prize there and it started being cinemas while I was in South Africa, leaving it to run only in the afternoons now.
It was clear that this wasn’t going to be an uplifting film. The story may be known: Sophie and her brother Hans print and distribute essays that criticise the government. The government in question is the Nazi government in 1943. And they are caught and eventually executed for what they did.
It’s just a mind boggling story. They are young and normal people. And they write a few pages against the war because they think it is wrong, seeing that many people die for nothing. At least from today’s point of view everything they say makes sense and is logical. But back then it wasn’t. After distributing the texts around the university and carelessly throwing a whole bunch down into the big entrance hall, they get caught because the caretaker saw them.
He probably didn’t even read the texts but was sickeningly eager to catch them and hand them over to the police. The police in turn are scarily efficient in doing a lot of questioning, threatening people, securing evidence and getting Sophie to admit what they did when she sees that they found things out anyway. What really irritated them is that Sophie and her brother didn’t apologise for what they did and that they didn’t say anything ‘non-German’. It was just a slight human irritation, though, and there were enough laws around to bring them to court where they could be verbally abused before saying good bye to their parents and being decapitated.
A depressing story for sure. A story that makes you happy to live in a free country. But also a story in which you end up agreeing with everything Sophie and her brother do and start wondering why there were so few protests. And after which you start wondering what you would have done yourself.
A good film of an impressive story. It may take a while before it’s available in English, but you should go and see it then.
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