zaterdag 2 mei 2015
Today's Review: Im Labyrinth des Schweigens
Finally another review up!
Im Labyrinth des Schweigens - Recensie
It's that time of the year again, where we all need to take a break from things and remember those who died in war. In the Netherlands, if not the majority of the European continent, it means mostly not forgetting the many tragedies of World War II, since few other wars have plagued those nations since (thankfully!). Of course, distributors are quick to jump on the public consciousness by releasing films adressing the thematics of war, and every year sees the release of one or two films referring to the horrors of the Second World war. This year is no different, with Im Labyrinth des Schweigens the default war remembrance picture released in Holland. It's made all the more topical because it addresses the issue of forgetting what happened in WW II, at least in the West-German scenario. The country was rising from its own ashes swifter than people would have thought possible, so who would want to open old wounds by investigating the past and risking dividing the nation? It sounds inconceivable to the contemporary generations, but the term 'Auschwitz' hadn't penetrated the collective consciousness: in fact, most wouldn't have a clue as to what it entailed. It would take an unprecedented trail, wherein a country would convict its own war criminals for the first time, to change these paradigms of 'ignorance is bliss' and force Germany to gain knowledge about its own atrocities. Could make for a smashing movie.
Unfortunately, Im Labyrinth des Schweigens doesn't prove the film the subject deserves. Though the notions remain intriguing, it chooses predictable drama and basic entertainment over the historical facts. It will be a frustrating watch for those with just a tad more knowledge of history than most, as the movie wastes much of its time sending its protagonist on a wild goose chase that they know will prove fruitless. While the intercutting of shocking testimonies from Holocaust survivors remains as powerful a scene as in many movies containing similar material, putting emphasis on the sensational stories of Nazi war crimes, thus for instance depicting Josef Mengele as a crazy monster rather than the disturbingly human character he undeniably was, hurts the film's efforts to remember the times when memory was overruled by the collective desire of forgetfulness. Though the principal cast deliver adequate performances, the script does make for an overly naive and irrationally obsessed protagonist. The historically grounded sides of his character as an investigator of the truth are undermined by his stereotypical reactions on the adversity he encounters, including turning to alcohol and losing the love of his life to his freakish persistence. It has to be admitted though that casting a charming blond haired, blue eyed German man as the one to investigate the crimes of the Aryan driven regime is a fine statement of the younger generation delving into the unholy matters of the old. But when you have that character running around the streets at night in a drunken fit, yelling 'you're all Nazis!' to random passersby, you're making it hard to come across as serious.
As a whole, Im Labyrinth des Schweigens explores interesting philosophical questions, but due to its desire to come across as exciting first and foremost, it fails to make the most out of its intriguing historical subject. A better movie might still be distilled from the topic, allowing us to remain silent about this one afterwards.