Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage
Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage came as a personal recommendation from a friend, and when he also presented to me the DVD I had no choice but to watch it, and for that I thank him.
I'd heard nothing about this film, and the blurb told me little. Yet it did hint at a somewhat different tale to those tales of wartime resistance already told, for Sophie Scholl was German and campaigned against her own country.
One of the most striking aspects of this story is the fact that it plays out in only a few locations and a minimum of exterior locations. The initial walk to the University where the anti-war leaflets are handed out and the University itself are perhaps the only real exterior locations we see. The remaining locations feel confined and bare, a stark contrast to the music filled, colourful and bright locations we see early on. Perhaps this is to highlight the confinement that Scholl faces.
The performance of Scholl, her interrogator, and the Judge are all worthy and memorable ones. With the interrogator showing a growing connection towards Scholl, but not in any cliched way. He shows a growing weariness throughout and some form of inner conflict which wondefully, is never fully explained.
It's this relationship that provides the central focus for the story. Scholl representing the opposition to the regime and the interrogator presenting the face of the regime. As the film develops Scholl's realisation of the seriousness of her situation and her approaching fate grows along with her resolution to that fate and her belief to her cause, a belief that at the beginning of the movie she doesn't seem so selflessly committed to.
While this power builds in her character you can see that of the interrogator's crumbling as he loses patience, grows angrier and finally finds a strange fascination in her character and there's a moment where you think he feels some remorse for his actions. This is highlighted in an act of washing his hands at the end of interrogation sessions.
This is all beatifully and very subtly portrayed onscreen, and where hundreds of screaming soldiers in uniform would be used in a western movie, the interrogator's face and few words suffice. Likewise the feelings of a huge resistance and Scholl's realisation are summed up in the few emotions she lets slip.
The final scenes are extremely strong emotionally and had me shedding a tear or two as we watched the scenes expand to carry the Nazi courtroom filled with German soldiers interrupted by the final arrival of Scholl's parents. Then after the trial they meet for a few short moments. It's these short moments of compassion that we see from even the Prison Guards that hit home the hardest amongst all the hatred and hidden anger.
Yet I keep returning to those moments during the interrogation with the two very well acted characters and superbly written dialogue.
This is a wonderful and personal movie which stands for so much more. I'd recommend it in an instant to anyone. Another sign to Hollywood that simplicity can produce a much more striking and powerful scene than budget and cast.