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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

13 Minutes (aka Elser) movie review: the ultimate what-if

by MaryAnn Johanson

13 Minutes green light

This intense dramatization of the true story of a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in 1939 is an unpleasant experience but a provocative one.
I’m “biast” (pro): love Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

German filmmaker Oliver Hirschbiegel (Diana) returns to the era of his brutal film Downfall — source of that now meme-fied scene in which an insane Adolf Hitler goes on an extended rant to an audience of terrified underlings — with an intense dramatization of the true story of a failed attempt to assassinate the Führer in 1939. Carpenter, metalworker, and halfhearted member of a local Communist group Georg Elser (Christian Friedel) is arrested shortly after the bomb he hid at a Munich rally of Nazi leadership detonates 13 minutes after Hitler had vacated the premises, and he endures savage interrogation and torture (mostly offscreen, though what’s here is terrible to behold) by Nazi officers: they need to get a signed confession from Elser for Goebbels to use for propaganda purposes. As the film shifts back and forth in time between Elser’s interrogation and his life and radicalization from the early 1930s onward, a disturbing portrait is painted of just how easily an entire culture can change for the worst, almost beneath the notice of many ordinary citizens and with the complicity of too many: a few Nazi posters on a wall in Elser’s little countryside village in 1932 has become public castigation of Jews and small children turned into bullies in Hitler Youth uniforms only a few years later. 13 Minutes thus makes an excellent companion piece to the 2006 film about another patriotic anti-Nazi German of the era, Sophie Scholl: The Final Days — written, like this one, by Fred Breinersdorfer (who collaborated here with his daughter, Léonie-Claire Breinersdorfer). This is not a pleasant experience at all, but it is a provocative and necessary reminder of how the course of history can be altered by the concerted effort of people of conscience… and that sometimes it must be.

green light 3.5 stars

13 Minutes (aka Elser) (2015)
UK release date: Jul 17 2015

MPAA: rated R for disturbing violence and some sexuality
BBFC: rated 15 (scenes of torture, hanging)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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  • LaSargenta

    Ok, on the list. :-) Thanks.

  • No US release date yet. Bet it gets one this fall, though.

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