March 13, 2008

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Rothemund, 2005)


Sophie Scholl: The Final Days belongs with the class of refined, pedigreed historical cinema that Europe seems to churn out to such a degree that it has become a "brand" of sorts here in the United States, patronized by art-house theaters from coast to coast. And though it attempts nothing radical within the confines of this particular type of film, it is nevertheless a potent, artful achievement. Culled from testimonies and long-buried historical documents, it is an examination of the last six days in the life of the German anti-Nazi heroine. And though the action (in this case not quite the appropriate word) is confined mostly to a handful of rooms and a couple of characters, it is a gripping example of cinema as historical document, as well as a showcase for a handful of fantastic, carefully calibrated performances (especially Julia Jentsch, who plays Sophie). Rothemund has crafted a work of powerful restraint that manages to be staid and verbose without ever being tedious, a work that derives considerable emotional momentum not from moments of unbridled fury, but from moments of quiet control. IMDb listing.

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