Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage) (2005)

In 1943, German teens Sophie and Hans Scholl, and Christoph Probst along with many others, were convicted of crimes against their country during the end of the second world war. Sophie, Hans, and Christoph were convicted and executed after being caught distributing leaflets and pamphlets speaking out against Hitler and his army. What’s depicted in “Sophie Scholl” is the utterly heroic and courageous war fought by these three people to survive and send out their messages of impending defeat to the Nazi’s. “Sophie Scholl” is a brilliant and utterly magnificent exploration not only in to the battle of these freedom fighters, but also an insightful glance at the last breath of the Nazi regime. I insist I’ve yet to see an awful depiction of the holocaust, and I stand by it. “Sophie Scholl” can be added to that list as one of the best depictions of Nazi wrath, and defiance ever made. It’s a masterpiece, pure and simple.

What makes it so, and what causes me to make such a declaration, is that it’s such a multi-layered story of a true heroine within simple confines. I rarely ever call a film a masterpiece, but “Sophie Scholl” deserves that title. “Feminist hero” is a word thrown around very much, but Sophie is the true feminist hero, a woman who eluded interrogators, held her own against the authority, displayed much tenacity in speaking her mind, refused to deny her ideas and beliefs in exchange for her own life, and refused to be granted a lenient sentence from her co-conspirators. Julia Jentsch gives an excellent performance, one that should have been nominated for an Oscar, as the heroine Sophie, and really inhabits her role as this woman. What makes her a brilliant character is that she’s so cool under pressure. She never shows emotion, never shows weakness, and upon heavy interrogation she dances her way around her master interrogator often infuriating him, and then when caught off guard, she manages to rebound with more slick replies.

There are a slew of great performances here, from Fabian Hinrichs, Florian Stetter, and Alexander Held respectively. Held who plays Investigator Mohr takes on Sophie from the get go expecting to weaken her, overpower her, and then force her to betray her people, but she persists, and he catches on immediately that he’s not dealing with any girl. The interplay between Held and Jentsch is riveting to watch with pure unadulterated Mamet-esque dialogue courtesy of a great script by Fred Breinersdorfer which has the two people slowly evolve in to allegories for the war. The dichotomy presented is magnificent, as we watch both Nazi and freedom fighter having a war of words representing differing views, both of which deemed by the person as justified and genuine. But, this film is not only about the holocaust, it’s about what we view as justified and moral in an unjustified and immoral society. This is not only about a villain and a heroine, it’s about what two people can view as law and order in a world where a dictator has taken place. Rothemund’s direction is excellent in its simplicity presenting Sophie’s lust to see the world again clearly evident.

Rothemund also takes great zeal in presenting some truly tense and engrossing courtroom sequences in the climax that kept me watching still and mesmerized. From the very beginning “Sophie Scholl” is a tense and stunning examination of this heroine and her friends’ attempts to speak out against the Nazi regime and the horrible practices hidden from them by Hitler. There are some amazing foreshadowing to the Nuremberg trials, and some beautiful subtext. The Nazis constantly explain that their mission is in vain, but what we’re aware of is that they know this war is in vain, and their end is coming soon, which accounts for such extreme and immediate executions for these three, their anger and feelings of being threatened by them was taken out on these three.

The infuriation by the judge, the fright from Mohr, the complacency of breaking the rules by guards and officers, its so vividly mirrored as their pre-defeat before the war ended. And they know this which is why they’re so accepting of their fates. The final scenes of Scholl made it all worth it. Rothemund composes it so well with such suggestive and brutal imagery signifying the last moments of the Nazi’s. Many paragraphs later, and I’m still uncertain if I’ve done this film the justice it rightfully deserves. “Sophie Scholl” is an excellent piece of brilliant filmmaking with top-notch directing, excellent acting, a riveting story, a very tense study of the last days of Nazism, and a worthy homage to a true heroine.