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Based on the astonishing true story of a teenage German solider whose sadism would eventually earn him the nickname of the Executioner of Emsland. The Captain picks up two weeks before the end of the war. A petrified soldier, fleeing military police, finds a Nazi captain s uniform to wear and avoid execution. Thus disguised and high on the terrifying charisma of his clothing, he invents a secret mission from the Führer and embarks on a brutal odyssey of torture and slaughter. Directed by Robert Schwentke (The Time Travelers Wife, Flight Plan and Red).
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Unlike most films dealing with similarly grim subject matter (see the excellent ‘Land of Mine’) this production slyly infiltrates a bizarre and subversive ‘gallows humour’ throughout, which not only mocks the ‘Prussian Mentality’ of order-giving and taking and the German preoccupation with bureaucracy and regulations, but also reflects the surreality of the desperate exercise of power under the Nazi rule, particularly as defeat grew ever closer.
The portrayal of the pitiless and pitiful brutalisation of the German military’s own soldier-prisoners makes the very salient point that the self-styled Nazi ‘revolution’ also devoured its own children, in particular while it masqueraded as the essence ‘order’ and ‘discipline’ even as it degenerated into barbaric, lawless, brigandage. The film also realistically touched on the wafer-thin ethical divide between victims and perpetrators when people are under extreme duress, and when the urge to survive compromises their own morality to the point of self-destruction which also leads to disastrous results for anyone else in close proximity.
The closing sequence is a reminder that these things did happen, can happen again and that Willi Herold is still among us.
Jaw-droppingly good, terrifying, and yet strangely funny. A great film.
On ordering this dvd "The Captain" I did not notice that it was spoken in German and had English subtitles.
The film tells the story of a young German deserter during the final months of WW2. He finds a Captain's uniform and plays the role of that rank.
It is a study of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. It also shows how ordinary people can become cold blooded, sadistic killers in certain circumstances.
The disc has both a black and white version as well as a version in colour. I feel the black and white version is more sinister and disturbing than the full colour version.
The movie is in German with English subtitles.
For me, the most disturbing element of this film is that it is based on a true story.