Labyrinth of Lies
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Germany 1958. In those years, "Auschwitz" was a word that some people had never heard of, and others wanted to forget as quickly as possible. Against the will of his immediate superior, young prosecutor Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) begins to examine the case of recently identified teacher who was a former Auschwitz gard. Radmann soon lands in a web of repression and denial, but also of idealization. He devotes himself with utmost commitment to his new task and is resolved to find out what really happened. He oversteps boundaries, falls out with friends, colleagues and allies, and is sucked deeper and deeper into a labyrinth of lies and guilt in his search for the truth. But what he ultimately brings to light will change the country forever.
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Top customer reviews
As he interviews survivors of the Holocaust, he begins to focus on Auschwitz, and in particular Dr. Josef Mengele, who conducted torture “experiments” on women and children at the camp. But Nazis like Mengele are well-protected in powerful circles.
As we watch events unfold through the eyes of Radmann, the horrors of crimes committed against innocent civilians overwhelm him and he becomes obsessed with seeing Nazis hiding everywhere. This seems a contrivance in an otherwise exceptional film. Perhaps director Giulio Ricciarelli was attempting to show how the extent of inhumanity was too devastating to grasp.
The movie is set between the end of World War II and the 1960 capture and eventual trial of former Nazi SS officer Adolf Eichmann. It reflects a time when not only Germans, but survivors of the camps wanted to move on with their lives and forget the nightmare to which they had been subjected. Radmann’s unpopular efforts and resolve to get to the truth brought to light heinous war crimes.
Special features on the Blu-ray release include commentary with director Giulio Ricciarelli and actor Alexander Fehling; Q & A at the LA Jewish Film Festival with Ricciarelli and Fehling; and deleted scenes.
Well organized, perfectly written and feelingly acted. Watching it, I felt like the Italian writer/director Giulio Ricciarelli had opened a secret door to Germany's mostly successful post-war attempts to hide the facts about Nazi Germany from its own citizens, a see-no- hear-no-evil attitude that dominated German life for 15 years after the Nazis lost the war. Up until 1960, the film seems to be charging, Germany was a nation of silent Holocaust deniers.
This is a classic story of a doggedly obsessive young prosecutor who finally discovers and reveals all, in spite of efforts by his colleagues and boss to stop him.
What makes it astounding is the plodding manner in which the director slowly reveals - and the main character discovers - the horror and despair of the Nazi death camps by showing the young prosecutor slowly building his case, banal fact upon banal fact, using the meticulous records that death camp managers kept of every event, every death, each gold tooth, even tracking the cost per death of the gas they used firstly to kill and subsequently to incinerate the remains of those killed, all carefully noted with cool German efficiency in the record books, and stored away in organized office files.
There's plenty of interesting side stories as well - the prosecutor's attempts to capture Dr. Josef Mengele, the butcher of Auschwitz; Mossad's kidnapping of Adolf Eichmann for trial in Israel.
But the core purpose of the movie is to show this one lone prosecutor committed to forcing the German people to recognize and accept the terrible truths about Nazi Germany