Monday, July 3, 2017

13 Minutes (orig. Elser) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R) (3 Stars)   Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing (M. Schwickert) interview w. director* (M. Knoben) review* (A. Kilb) review* (B. Moldenhauer) review* (B. Möller) review*

Los Angeles Times (K. Turan) review (G. Kenny) review

13 Minutes (orig. Elser) [2015] (directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, screenplay by Léonie-Claire Breinersdorfer and Fred Breinersdorfer) tells the sad story of Georg Elser [de.wikip]*[en.wikip] (played in the film by Christian Friedel) a random somewhat solitary carpenter / machine shop worker (something of a mix of Edward Snowden and Lee Harvey Oswald ...) from small town Bavaria who came to the conclusion that the Nazi leadership must die and on Nov 8, 1939 (a few months after the Nazi invasion of Poland with which World War II began) came within thirteen minutes of blowing Hitler up at a Nazi rally at the Bürgerbräukeller [de.wikip]*[en.wikip] in Munich .  A large beer hall, the Bürgerbräukeller had been ground zero of Hitler's failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and hence had become something of a Nazi shrine, the site of solemn annual tributes and commemorations during the whole of the Nazi Era.  Elser had hoped to blow-up Hitler along with a good part of the Nazi Leadership while Hitler was speaking at the 1939 edition of said commemorative event.

Both the genius and tragedy of Elser's attempt on Hitler's life was that Elser came BOTH _very close_ to getting his man (Hitler just happened to end his speech early that evening and had left the rally only thirteen minutes before the bomb went off) AND _nearly_ got away:  He was quite randomly picked-up at the relatively nearby border between Germany and Switzerland.  The German guard who had quite accidentally come-upon him had INITIALLY NO IDEA of the significance of the man he was arresting as the bomb that Elser had set, hidden in a column behind the speakers' podium at the Bürgerbräukeller, had not yet even gone off ....

Well, the bomb went off, and Elser had with him incriminating pictures / drawings of the Bürgerbräukeller linking him to the bomb plot ... (Sigh ... why hadn't he gotten rid of them?)

Soon he was being interrogated (and tortured ...) under the direction of Gestapo investigator Arthur Nebe [de.wikip]*[en.wikip] (played in the film by Burghart Klaußner) and the shadowy Gestapo co-head Heinrich Müller [de.wikip]*[en.wikip] (played in the film by Johann von Bülow).  Interestingly Arthur Nebe himself was executed in March, 1945 for his involvement in the July 1944 Claus von Stauffenberg Plot [de.wikip]*[en.wikip] against Hitler.  Heinrich Müller, in contrast, was last reported to have been seen in the Führerbunker [de.wikip]*[en.wikip] in Berlin on May 1, 1945 and remains the highest ranking Nazi to have neither been captured nor confirmed to have died at the end of the war.  He simply vanished.

Elser, for his part, was _not_ executed immediately after the Nazi interrogators "were done with him."  (It took a while for them to become convinced that he _really did_ "act alone").  Instead, he spent most of the war in the Dachau Concentration Camp [de.wikip]*[en.wikip] where he was executed in the closing weeks of the war.

The film really offers a quite fascinating picture of a complex (and contradictory...) "simple man" who _nearly_ did the world an enormous favor by _nearly_ getting rid of one of the most Evil figures in human history.

But that _may be_ the point of Elser's tragic story.  It / HE wasn't enough ...

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