Directed by Robert Shwentke I was intrigued to see his latest effort.
Having seen RIPD and RED and enjoying both. I went in optimistic.
The Captain is a true story based on Willi Herold. Herold, a 21 year old German, stole an officer’s uniform and committed several war crimes. Most notably the Massacre at Emsland. Herold found a Luftwaffe Captain’s uniform and soon took over a prison camp with other soldiers. He convinced everyone he was acting under direct orders from Hitler. He executed deserters and thieves at the camp and participated in looting and other crimes himself.
The film is in German and black and white. Max Hubacher is very convincing as the young German who is bluffing his way through the war.
At first you think that Herold is a victim of circumstance but when he is given a taste of power he takes it full course. Herold uses his authority to execute several prisoners when his theft of the uniform eventually leads him and other soldiers he meets in the field there. I thought perhaps he only did this to save his own neck but soon you can see that he does this willingly.
The film gives you a look at what happened to the German soldiers at the end of World War II. The desertion, the loss of humanity by soldiers and even a scene where one of the officers at Herold’s German trial (not his actual War Crimes trial) speaks of not only praising Herold, but building an underground in occupied Germany.
It is dramatic but not overly so. It is dark, it portrays the inhumanity of soldiers with too much power and those facing the end of a war they know they are losing. It is the story of a war criminal told from his point of view and his complicit fellow soldiers participating in the charade.
I think the most telling part of the film is the end scene under the credits. I could not tell if this was real or fabricated. It certainly seemed real.
The Captain is quite violent at times. It attempts to show the German people at the end of the war and how they had become during the war. You can see in the actor’s faces their uncertainty about the war; the reluctance, but then the almost natural reactions of being placed in those abnormal circumstances.
The Captain does not hold back and some scenes may be found disturbing. There are some moments where the film does seem low budget, mainly due to some locations looking a bit too modern.
Overall it is a film you should watch if just for the history aspect and curiosity of Robert Schwentke‘s directorial chops. What is your opinion of this film? Let us know AFTER THE JUMP!