Posts Tagged ‘Oliver Hirshbiegel’

Christian Friedel

“13 MINUTES” My rating: B

114 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Can a murderer be a hero?

That’s just one of the perplexing questions posed by “13 Minutes,” the fact-based story of Georg Elser, who in 1939 planted a bomb in a Munich auditorium in order to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Der Fuhrer exited the building 13 minutes before the timer ignited the device, killing a half dozen and maiming another 60.

Elser was picked up as a suspect within hours of the blast and underwent interrogation and torture.

(There’s a devastating scene in which the young woman stenographer recording the interview realizes it is time for her to leave the room. She sits outside in the hall, reading a book, and trying to ignore the screams and whimpers of pain coming through the closed door.)

Initially Elser refused to give even his name or date of birth, breaking only when the authorities announced they would begin enhanced interrogations of his parents and mistress.

Later the Gestapo tried to get Elser to confess to being part of a conspiracy; he maintained (and eventually proved even to his dubious captors) that he had designed, built and planted the bomb unassisted.

Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film explains why a pacifist would turn to killing.

Elser wasn’t crazy.  He wasn’t homicidal. He deeply regretted that his failed assassination attempt resulted in death and injury to bystanders. And yet he believed his actions — criminal by definition and immoral according to many — were absolutely necessary.

The screenplay by the father/daughter team of Fred and Leonie-Claire Breinersdorfer alternates scenes of Elsner (a quietly intense Christian Friedel) in Gestapo custody with passages from his past.

These flashbacks depict an apolitical humanist — a carpenter by trade and a musician for the fun of it — who is gradually radicalized by the slow creep of Naziism into his sleepy provincial town.


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