In the chaotic aftermath of WWII, a group of German POWs are accidentally sent to a female-run Soviet prison camp. When the guards are given the task of weeding out the SS officers, they play a bitter game of cat and mouse with the prisoners. Each group slowly learns that situations are not what they seem; prejudices are sometimes unjustly held; and love can be found in even the harshest places.
The other reviewer Bobby Smith has given a very good account of this film. It is not an action war movie (it is set after the WWII) but the DVD cover would have you think otherwise, which is unfortunate but not the fault of the film makers. This is suppose to be a true story and I feel it is up to one small point, the 'search' for the SS members out of a group of 51 German Prisoners of War is a sub plot around the romance and intimacies. These grow between the German prisoners and thier all female Russian guards. There is a small however, it was pretty common knowledge that most SS (and some Wehrmacht)men had thier blood groups tattoed on thier left arms (for medical purposes). So a quick check could have solved the mystery, but toward the end of the war this practice became the exception to the rule, so its not really a 'deal breaker'. Only other gripe is that they all speak English albeit with reasonably good accents, but it tends to take away from the reality in that language would have been a barrier to communication at the beginning unless in the real true story they were all bi lingual, a petty gripe I know especially as I actually wasn't in the mood for a sub titled film.
All that aside the acting is excellent from all concerned especially Thomas Kretchman, Malkovich is just Malkovich which is always enough and he does help ratchet up the tension. There are enough twists to keep the plot moving at an unnoticably reasoned pace and as such it passes the test of all good films in that you don't feel bored or check your watch. If you like plots with intrigue and a genuine attempt to make a non Hollywood style film then you will enjoy In Tranzit.
I bought this as I like WW2 movies to be a little different, being somewhat tired of the formulaic hollywood dross that dominates most of the film charts. I was not disappointed by In Tranzit. This is an intelligent, who dunnit type movie that stimulates the brain cells, as the female Russian inmates try to work out who are SS war criminals amongst their 50 or so prisoners. Of course, seeing as how the prison guards are female and the inmates male, relationships develop amongst them. In many ways this is more a film about emotions, than it is a movie being about bang bang your dead. Indeed my one criticism is that the DVD cover is so misleading - as there are no planes, tanks or shooting scenes. This is fine by me but I guess some people will be put off by this. For those who seek entertainment beyond body count then I advise you to purchase this understated classic. Top performance by the ever consistent Thomas Kretschmann as well. Looks like he survived Stalingrad [DVD]  after all!!
An interesting film, this work seems to explore the moral no-man's land between victor and vanquished in the wake of the devastating war on the Eastern Front. During the search for ex-SS war criminals hiding in the midst of ordinary german POWs bizarre but nontheless touching relationships develop between the prisoners and their female guards. At first I thought this to be so implausible given the savage nature of the Ost-Front war that I was wondering if this promising film was going to give way to overly sentimental "love-conquers-all" slush. It doesn't, thankfully, but this very human element in an otherwise deeply bleak film adds a dimesion of hope. The performances of the cast are convincing; Vera Farmiga and Thomas Kretschmann adding humanity and hope starkly in contrast to John Malkovich's chilling portrayal of an NKVD officer who is as icy and cold as the frozen steppe. The way the film is shot is highly atmospheric and the snowy scenes really do give the viewer a sense of the bleak conditions and of being marooned in an alien country with little hope of returning home. In short then, an intelligent and well acted film well worth watching if you appreciate good drama.
I bought the Dutch extended and uncut Blu-ray edition of this film. You just have to put up with a bit of incomprehensible stuff at the beginning of the disc and turn off the subtitles but the payback for this is in the picture quality which is superb. I can't figure out what would have needed to be cut for the UK DVD version, this edition is neither overlong nor controversial, in fact I thought it was near perfect. I am invariably disappointed by much-hyped films that fail to come up to expectation and occasionally very surprised by dark horse films such as this which exceed them. Having studied the experience of Russians in WW2 quite considerably I thought that the portrayal of Russian women, brutalised by a war in which they fought alongside men as soldiers, tank drivers and combat pilots and facing a future devoid of men who had been slaughtered on an unprecedented scale, was very realistic. I thought that the acting was superb. Malkovich can always be relied upon to carry a film, but he didn't need to here. I've never heard of Vera Farmiga but the synopsis above says she's multi-nominated for awards. I thought she was stunning and likewise the rest of the cast particularly Daniel Bruhl.
My only disappointment with this edition was the absence of extras. I really wanted to learn more about the people involved, including the two real-life stories, one Russian and one German upon which the screenplay was based. The Dutch BD at least has a decent cover. The UK DVD cover is a cynical attempt to make people who would not appreciate this film spend money on it and those responsible should hang their heads in shame.