Release Date: October 7th, 2005 (Quad Cinema) by Picture This! Entertainment.
The Cast: Max Riemelt, Tom Schilling, Devid Streisow, Joachim Bissmeier.
Directed by Dennis Gansel.
BASIC PREMISE: During the early 1940ís, Freidrich (Riemelt), a young and talented boxer, joins Napola, a preparatory boarding school for future Nazis. Based on a true story.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This film is a frightening look at how young men are gradually brainwashed to become part of a movement that is based almost entirely on hatred. Riemelt gives a good performance as the main character Freidrich, who is fortunate enough to be admired by the schoolís faculty for his good boxing talent. Other young men are not as fortunate, such as Albrecht (Schilling) who prefers reading books and writing over training for battlesódespite that his father is the headmaster. There are a few shocking plot twists involving events that occur to two of the students. A speech given after one of the events is even more shocking. There are many scenes that show the rigorous training exercises, such as learning how to throw a grenade. One particularly suspenseful and well-shot scene is when the students must swim in bitter-cold waters under the ice of a lake from one hole to another. There are a few moments that arenít so serious, such as when Freidrich and Albrecht spy on a sexy woman through a window while she is undressing. This film because truly engaging when they both become close friends who share some of the same opinions. The difference with Albrecht, though, is that he is not afraid to express them in public, which obviously embarrasses his father. There is a slight suggestion of sexual feelings between the Albrecht and Freidrich, but writer-director Gansel does a good job of keeping it very subtle.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: There are many moving, heartbreaking scenes throughout this film as these young men are forced to endure a lot of mental torture without any freedom of thought. Fascism is the best way to describe whatís going on in this school. Albrecht makes a very good point when he writes in an essay about what he thinks of war: he simply cannot fathom how any human being can rightfully kill another. Itís just as simple as that. However, the faculty members, especially his father the headmaster, refuse to even consider the validity of this essay. There is a lot of truth to this essay that still wrings true to this very day.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
THE BOTTOM LINE: A very well-shot, moving film that brings you into the frightening lives of young men in a fascist boarding school. The fact that this is based on a true story makes it even more powerful and important to watch.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
The "B" Menu