Monday, 20 July 2015

Film: '13 Minutes'

Engrossing, disturbing and violent German film (English subtitles) telling of an assassination attempt on Hitler at the start of WWII, a true episode which has been unfairly and virtually completely eclipsed in history by the attempt, through similar method, of Claus Von Stauffenberg and his co-plotters nearly five years later.
The film's title refers to the short space of time at which Der Fuhrer made an unscheduled early departure from the Bier Keller in Munich where he'd been giving one of his rousing party speeches, and thus avoiding an exploding time-bomb, which actually did kill at least seven others.

The film is framed at both ends, as well as 'interrupted', by the capture and interrogation of the perpetrator, Georg Elser (played by Christian Friedel in very good form), with the refusal of his Nazi interrogators to accept the truth that he had acted entirely alone. The years of his life leading up to this incident are shown in flashback - his hitherto apolitical stance (despite accusations, he was never a member of the Communist Party, nor was he Jewish) being turned by witnessing the rise of Nazism and their anti-Judaism campaign and the rounding up of his Communist friends. So he sets out on his solo plan of assassination.
While this is going on he falls in love with a young married woman (Katharine Schuttler), wife to a brutal husband, and rapist. The feelings between the young pair are mutual and they must be ever careful in betraying any indication of their feelings, especially to the hot-tempered husband.

There are some scenes which are very hard to watch, particularly some of the interrogation methods employed - as well as the violence meted out to the young woman by the husband.

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel has already given us the first-rate 'Downfall' (2004) concerning Hitler's final days in 1945 in his Berlin bunker. He does us another service here in documenting a little-known episode involving, surely, an undisputed yet little acknowledged hero, whose name was certainly unfamiliar to me and, I'd guess, to many more, not only in the West but, perhaps, also in Germany itself, though I may have to be corrected concerning the latter claim.

This is one of those films that requires a strong stomach to watch, but if you can take it I'm sure you'll find it has been money and effort well spent..................................7.


  1. Imheard a duscussion of the movie on radio 4
    Sounds good... And the reception the directors films have had in german ( his home town) is interesting

    1. It IS good, J.G., not least because it's also an 'education' for some, including myself. A clear recommendation.

  2. I'd not heard of the film Ray, so thanks for the introduction. I like the sound of it very much. 90% of what we watch (film wise) are foreign language so this is right up my street! It sounds very good.

    1. I'd really forced myself to go, Craig, even though it was yet another 'war' film, of which I've really had my fill for life - AND this being another one involving those nasty Nazis as opposed to concerning any other war. But it was the fact that it was a chance to see a non-English language film again when the chances of catching such have been so circumscribed for me recently that made me go, and I'm so glad I did. So you'll get the double bonus of here having a foreign language film and a quality one at that.
      I take it you saw 'Downfall'? If not, you really must. Both that and this one are from the angle of a story not often seen on film, and this one never, to my knowledge. You'll like it despite the horrors depicted.

    2. Downfall was something of a masterpiece Ray. I can handle human horrors, just don't give me anything to do with animals suffering. I haven't even been able to watch a Lassie film since I was about 5!

    3. With you totally on animals, Craig. Can't even watch a news-clip which features animals, even if they haven't been suffering - or when someone sends in a video of an animal doing 'funny' things, I'm switching channels.
      Must admit my tolerance of seeing human suffering too has changed rather acutely in recent years. I now cannot watch, for example, anything showing concentration camps, or women or children (or men, sometimes) kept under subjugation. It's all harder to bear now than in years gone by.

      As fo0r 'Downfall', yes, we agree. It was a major and impressive film of influence.