Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

Sophie Scholl

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Made in: Germany
Language: German
Director: Marc Rothemund
Starring: Julia Jentsch, Gerald Alexander Held, Johanna Gastdorf, Fabian Hinrichs, Florian Stetter
Year: 2005

Synopsis: Based on true events. In 1943 Munich, an underground group known as the White Rose, plots a daring plan to secretly distribute hundreds of anti-Nazi leaflets at the local university. Knowing that the leaflets will spark a furor, their hope is that it will inspire a revolution to topple Hitler. The group is led by Hans Scholl (Fabian Hinrichs), and his sister Sophie (Julia Jentsch).

This dramatization of Germany's most well-known anti-Nazi resistance member was reconstructed through various historical records. It follows Sophie's arrest, relentless interrogation at the hands of Gestapo officer Robert Mohr (played by Gerald Alexander Held), and subsequent imprisonment.

During her harrowing ordeal, she is resolute in her loyalty to the cause of freedom, and unwavering in her peaceful crusade against National-Socialist oppression.

As high-ranking members of the Nazi regime repeatedly attempt to discredit her actions, Sophie's highly publicized trial ironically provides the perfect opportunity for her to directly speak out against Hitler and the German war effort. In time, her name becomes immortalized.

The Good: Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is a very moving film as it chronicles the bravery of a 21 year-old girl who dared to confront the most infamous regime in modern history.

It's a chilling account of the evil that gripped German during the 1940s, and will make you grateful for living in a free society. Julia Jentsch brings a quiet strength to Sophie, and plays a convincing hero.

Most of the story is told through dialogue, and the film often has the feel of a stage play. Especially powerful, and well constructed, are the scenes where she is interrogated by the Gestapo. Her intellectual feuding with her captor makes you wonder who it is that's really on the defensive, as director Marc Rothemund deftly shifts the balance of power between the two characters.

The Bad: The story takes place over a period of six days, but from the way it's filmed, the passage of time seems a little confusing. Perhaps Marc Rothemund deliberately tried to disorient the viewer by putting us in Sophie's place. But in any case, I wasn't sure if she had been in prison for either days or weeks.

Who would like this film: Sophie Scholl: The Final Days is for you if you're a fan of foreign films and have an interest in stories about human dramas in the midst of World War II. Much of the themes regarding evil, oppression, and the struggle for freedom will be familiar, but the superb script transcends a "been there, done that" reaction.

There's also strong spiritual element, as Sophie Scholl often turned to her devout Protestant faith as a source of guidance. Christian believers will definitely identify with the themes of achieving greatness through sacrifice, suffering, and humility.

(3 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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