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Posts Tagged ‘“Labyrinth of Lies”’

*** ****

Alexander Fehling

“LABYRINTH OF LIES” My rating: B- 

124 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Labyrinth of Lies” is an earnest slice of history in which the various characters are less personalities than easily recognized political points of view.

Normally this would not bode well for the enterprise.  But the subject of Giulio Ricciarelli’s drama is so big and compelling — the prosecution of Nazi war criminals (or, rather, the reluctance of post-war Germany to seek justice for the millions of murdered) —  that “Labyrinth” sucks us into its vortex of national guilt.

It’s 1957 and Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling, who plays Carrie’s boyfriend on the current season of “Homeland”) has his first gig as a Frankfurt prosecutor. As the youngest man on the office totem pole he spends most of his time in traffic court.

One day he arrives at work to find his fellow prosecutors being harangued by Thomas Gnielka (Andre Swymanski), a rabble-rousing newspaperman who claims to have discovered a notorious former Auschwitz guard contentedly teaching at an elementary school.

The legal brains aren’t interested. The older attorneys don’t want to stir up trouble.  The younger ones, like Johann, don’t even recognize the word “Auschwitz.”

When Johann asks around about the veracity of Gnielka’s accusations, he’s told that rumors of war crimes are all part of an anti-German smear campaign: “The victors get to make up stories.”

“Labyrinth of Lies” is about how Johann contracts Gnielka’s passion for chasing down war criminals, how he launches his own independent investigation (one opposed by most of his superiors) and little by little begins identifying those war criminals who have hung up their uniforms and resumed civilian life as if nothing had happened.

He spends days in vast musty repositories of fading Nazi documents (think the final warehouse scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”). He interviews concentration camp survivors.  Before long he’s raised his aim from a lowly school teacher to the notorious Josef Mengele, the physician who conducted inhuman experiments on death camp inmates.

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