Alone in Berlin
Action / Drama
Alone in Berlin
Action / Drama
In 1940, German soldier Hans Quangel is killed in action during the French campaign. His parents, Otto and Anna, are devastated by the loss and their bereavement is unmollified by the joyful hysteria at Germany's victory. Deciding that Fuhrer Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime are responsible for this tragedy and much more, Otto cannot stand by any longer. As such, Otto begins to create handwritten cards denouncing the regime's abuses and lies, which he secretly deposits throughout Berlin while a disillusioned Anna insists on helping him. As the subversive cards pile up over the years, police detective Escherich is tasked to track down the leafleteer while being pressured by his increasingly impatient SS superior for an arrest for this "treason," regardless of actual guilt. As the stakes rise even as Nazi Germany's day of reckoning approaches, Otto and Anna are determined to spread the truth regardless of the odds even as their opposition awaits the fatal mistake that could doom them.
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June 17, 2017 at 05:39 PM
Misses the point of the book.
I read the book just before I found out they were making the film so was naturally quite excited to see how they handled it.
While Gleeson and Thompson turn in great performances, the adaptation lets them down badly.
The film and book part company towards the end: the film ends up with a glimmer of hope, with the postcards being thrown out of the window, possibly to give their message again. In the book there is no false hope. Nobody reads the postcards, nobody is affected, the protest is a vain one.
But the message is that even if doomed to fail, we must still protest if something is not right. If we do not oppose evil, we tacitly condone it.
I realise that as reviews go, this is uninformative and a bit rubbish; I feel that it's important to look beyond the film amd to reflect on the book's message, which is as relevant today as it was during WW2.
'What more can a man donate than his child?'
What more can a man donate than his child?'
Hans Fallada's novel 'Every Man Dies Alone' has been adapted for the screen by Achim von Borries, Vincent Perez and Bettine von Borries: Perez also directs this mesmerizing film about resistance in Germany during Hitler's reign in World War II. Many films and books have been written about the holocaust, the obliteration of the Jews and the gays while Hitler's nightmare raged, but few have addressed the ordinary citizens of Germany - Berlin in particular - who did not align with the Nazi regime but instead quietly resisted in the only manner available: courage and secretive acts of rebellion.
In 1940, German soldier Hans Quangel (Louis Hofmann) is killed in action during the French campaign. His parents, coffin maker Otto and his wife Anna (Brendan Gleeson and Emma Thompson), are devastated by the loss, unable at first to even communicate with each other, and their crushing grief is placed in strong contrast to the joyful hysteria at Germany's victory. Deciding that Fuhrer Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime are responsible for this tragedy and much more, Otto cannot stand by any longer. As such, Otto begins to create handwritten cards denouncing the regime's abuses and lies, which he secretly deposits throughout Berlin while a disillusioned Anna insists on helping him. As the subversive cards pile up over the years, police detective Escherich (Daniel Brühl) is tasked to track down the ones responsible for the anti-Nazi cards while being pressured by his increasingly impatient SS superior (Mikael Persbrandt) for an arrest for this "treason," regardless of actual guilt. As the stakes rise even as Nazi Germany's day of reckoning approaches, Otto and Anna, quietly protective of endangered Jews (Monique Chaumette) are determined to spread the truth regardless of the odds even as their opposition awaits the fatal mistake that could doom them.
The entire film is wondrously underplayed - cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne, musical score by Alexandre Desplat - by the gifted actors Gleeson, Thompson and Brühl and the result is a near overwhelming sense of sadness and honor for those souls who had the courage to resist Hitler's horror. It is a very fine film that deserves a wide audience - especially now.
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Not Alone in Berlin
There's no doubt that Rudolf Ditzen - or rather, Hans Fallada's book Every Man Dies Alone, or Alone in Berlin, is a masterpiece. This film 'adaptation' is far from it and is actually insulting the book and the true story and memory of Otto and Elise Hampel. A period drama set in Berlin during the heyday of Hitler's Nazi Party is an exceptionally ambitious, difficult and costly film to recreate, and the film maker and his team seem to me to have gone about this project in totally the wrong way - it's a confused jumble of priorities which negated the essence of the story and therefore the script completely lost sight of the intricacies and emotions of the real characters and the time in which they lived. The only real way to do justice to the novel is to serialise it as a television series; to explore the paranoia and the fear and the difficulties of living under the fascist regime, to show the poverty and hardship, the insidious mistrust of person for person, the degradation of society and the desperation of the inhabitants of Germany at that time. The film maker completely misses all of this, instead creating an atmosphere largely based on washed out colour and nothing being said. The costumes are far too neat and clean, everything is shiny and lovely and carefully placed, the casting is appalling - Emma Thompson, bless her, does pull in a good performance, but Brendan Gleeson plays himself as usual, and the detectives are just young boys completely out of their depth. And Depth is the biggest argument I have against this mockery of a great story ... there isn't any. It's superficial to say the least - only 10 percent of the characters from the original novel appear and the film maker pays little attention to those ten. It looks like it was filmed 'on the hoof' with very little thought for drama and direction, largely leaving it up to the mediocre actors to supply the viewer with the pathos needed. I wonder if when filming it more time was given over to style (which is largely inaccurate) than actual substance. This is not Alone in Berlin, it's simply a vacuous film that borrows a small idea from a truly dramatic, sad, and powerful real life story. Extremely disappointing and immature in every way.