Berlin 1940. The city is paralyzed by fear. Otto and Anna Quangel are a working class couple living in a shabby apartment block trying, like everyone else, to stay out of trouble under Nazi rule. But when their only child is killed fighting at the front, their loss drives them to an extraordinary act of resistance. They start to drop anonymous postcards all over the city attacking Hitler and his regime. If caught, it means certain execution.
Soon their campaign comes to the attention of the Gestapo inspector Escherich and a murderous game of cat-and-mouse begins. But the game serves only to strengthen Otto and Anna’s sense of purpose and a renewed love for each other. Slowly their drab lives and marriage are transformed as they unite in their quiet but profound rebellion…
Source: Shaw Theatres Singapore
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With Emma Thompson in the lead role, I had to watch this movie. She is such an accomplished artist – and elegant too. In my opinion, her best film ever was THE REMAINS of the DAY opposite Anthony Hopkins.
Opposite her plays Brendan Gleeson. I first noticed him in BRAVEHEART with Mel Gibson, and subsequently he played several supporting roles in contemporary as well as period flicks – such as TROY and KINGDOM of HEAVEN. This is his first starring role and he pulled it off so well.
Besides the fact it was based on a true story – not every German of that time supported Hitler – it was also a poignant story of love. Ordinary folks. Middle aged love – something which most movies and TV dramas do not delve into. For studio executives seeking tent pole box office success, love is meant for young and old-pretending-to-be-young people.
To me, set in very dangerous circumstances was the couple’s rediscovery of their love for one another, and the powerful bonding. For those of us so blessed, there is nothing more inspirational as having one’s spouse support your ideals – dangerous as it might be. Beautiful and nail biting, and the impending outcome lent great urgency to their story.
There is much realism in the movie – I judge a movie by how real it is – and Alone in Berlin did not disappoint. Not one bit. It was brutal how the SS treated their own police officers and here, Daniel Brühl – remember him as Niki Lauda in RUSH (what a classic actor) – pulled off the role of Inspector Escherich remarkably well. Like many Germans of that time, he was conflicted between upholding the law, the ill treatment of people and self-preservation – though that did not stop him, initially, from displaying brutality on others.
I was particularly impressed by the screenwriters: Vincent Perez and Achim von Borries. The dialogue was in German English. Excellent! Yes, there is such a thing as German-English as there are Carribean, Indian, Singapore (Singlish) English, etc.
One thing that caught me off guard was the use of guillotines for execution. I thought only the French used that. The Nazis executed by firing squad and – Hitler’s favourite – hanging his victims on a wire from a meat hook. For whatever reason, they chose not to show the execution and only hinted of it. I would have preferred if they had not been so coy because I think the execution scene, though terribly sad, would have been inspirational – courage in the face of death. But that’s me and perhaps it was just as well.
I watched the movie on a Saturday afternoon and – as expected in Singapore – the hall was less than a quarter filled. Says something about movie-goers’ preference.
If you like to watch a good movie with your significant other – a movie for adults and thinking people – I recommend ALONE IN BERLIN. Worth every dollar and more.
My rating: 9.5 out of 10