Julia Jentsch, Alexander Held, Fabian Hinrichs, Florian Stetter
|In 1943, Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch) did the unthinkable in Nazi Germany. She, her brother Hans (Fabian Hinrichs) and close friend Christoph Probst (Florian Stetter) organized an anti-Nazi movement at Munich University called The White Rose. "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" takes place over the final six days in the lives of Scholl and the other White Rose members after their betrayal by a janitor at the university who discovered the leaflets the pro-peace, anti-Nazi group was distributing.
Scholl, a 21-year-old college student and daughter of a German conscientious objector, was interrogated for three days by Robert Mohr (Alexander Held). Convincing Mohr of her innocence, Sophie would finally confess only after her brother had already confessed everything.
As Sophie Scholl, Julia Jentsch ("The Edukators") is nothing short of magnificent. Jentsch beautifully brings to life the youthful enthusiasm of a devout, Protestant college student whose lifelong teachings of equality and justice would lead her and her brother to speak out against the Nazi regime shortly after its defeat at Stalingrad. According to historical records, Scholl could be both the immature, little sister and the fiercely convicted activist. Jentsch captures both sides with tremendous clarity and intensity.
In his feature film debut, director Marc Rothemund gives "Sophie Scholl" the feel of a documentary much of the time, however, the script by Fred Breinersdorfer is so sparkling and authentic that the film constantly feels alive. The supporting cast, as well, sparkles throughout the film and adds great suspense even when the film's outcome is widely known. Held, in particular, is hypnotic in his verbal sparring with Sophie over the course of three days. What could have been a very one-note role, is given multiple layers by Held. It is clear that even as he becomes aware of Sophie's guilt, he both admires and abhors her for her convictions.
While the film is ultimately hindered by the filmmaker's decision to focus solely on the final six days of Sophie's life, Rothemund adds a significant depth to the proceedings by recreating Scholl's devastating goodbye to her parents along with several other scenes based upon existing transcripts from her interrogation.
In this time in US history, I can't help but wonder if "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" will be an even more powerful experience for those who question current US involvement in Iraq. It is nearly impossible to not draw some parallels between Scholl's activism and our current situation in the United States.
Regardless of one's political beliefs, "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" is a compelling and disturbing drama based upon the final six days in the life of a young woman who did the unthinkable...she stood up for what she believed in Nazi Germany.
|© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic