Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

2007-06-25 17:23
What it’s about:

In 1943 Sophie Scholl (Julia Jentsch) is the only female member of anti-nazi resistance organisation, The White Rose, who work to turn people against Hitler and the Reich. Having set up a makeshift printing press in a friend’s room, they regularly distribute resistance literature by mail. The film begins when Sophie and her brother (Fabian Hinrichs) take a pile of leaflets to their university to secretly distribute them and are apprehended. Soon they must choose between their lives, and their ideologies.

What we thought of it:

Sophie Scholl is not light entertainment, shouldn’t be watched by anyone just seeking a bit of escapism. Fresh in its approach of showing the effects of Nazism on the German public during the war, Sophie Scholl plays out as a tribute to real life activists, without getting overly preachy or self-righteous. As one of Germany’s own best-known resistance members, Sophie’s story is one that is worth knowing.

The focus of the film is Sophie herself, and from the opening of her spending time with her friends, to working at the clandestine printing press, she is a human being, rather than a one-dimensional zealot or freedom fighter. Julia Jentsch won 5 awards for her portrayal of Sophie, and she could not be better – from the nervous leaflet drop with her brother, to her forced bravado when captured, to the conversations with her cellmate, there are too many subtleties and nuances to mention. Her understated vulnerability works so well with the sombre atmosphere of the film that it puts the viewer in her shoes throughout.

The rest of the cast is also superb, with Gerald Alexander Held deserving special mention as Inspector Robert Mohr, who interrogates Sophie and her brother when they are captured. He is the face of the down trodden working man who has benefited under the Nazi government, yet is still aware of their evils. His performance is also complex and subtle, and he is shown to be as human as Sophie.

Everything about this film just screams class. It’s a compelling and devastating story that is based on real events, and is handled in a very matter of fact way. Despite the mounting horror of the story, there is always a glimmer of hope, and at the end, the sacrifices that are made come from that hope, which parallels many of the stories from our own history. It’s still bleak as hell, and you may want to take in some tissues or a hanky. During the end credits, there are photos of the real Sophie and her co-accused, just to put in the final fullstop.

Sophie Scholl is a must see for fans of dramas, historical films, and anyone with a passing interest in WW2. I’d recommend it to everyone, save for the fact that many people will find it too harrowing and grim. It is the story of a heroine though, someone willing to die for her beliefs, told in a superbly well crafted film.

- Ivan Sadler
Forget imaginery heroes, Sophie Scholl is about the real thing. Reliving the final days of Germany's only female anti-nazi resistance fighter isn't easy, but it's rewarding.

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