BEFORE THE FALL ('NAPOLA') is a brilliantly made film that addresses the blind hopes of youth in becoming a success as a man, a factor that allowed and allows dictators to entice young men into the realm of warriors under the guise of applauded bravery and the golden promise of achieving glory for a great cause. This story just happens to be about Hitler and his 40 Napola (training camps for the elite German youths in 1942) and the young boys and men who trained in these National Political societies. It could be found in many places and in many times...Friedrich Weimer (handsome and talented young Max Riemelt) comes from the lower class in Germany (his father is aiming him toward factory work) and is a fine young boxer. His talents are noted by some representatives from the Nazi party and he is asked to report for enrollment in a Napola, an important means of education and training that Friedrich sees as being his way to become something special, someone important. His father is anti-Nazi and refuses to let Friedrich go, but Friedrich is determined and runs into the night to join the Napola. Once there he is admitted, groomed as a boxer for the Napola, and introduced to the Hitler's youth movement. His fellow classmates vary from the very wealthy to other fine Arian lads. They are trained, observed, and brainwashed as to the glory of the Thousand Year Reich. Problems begin to arise when Friedrich gets to know his fellow classmates: Siegfried (Martin Goeres) is a bed wetter and is humiliated publicly for his problem; Albrecht (Tom Schilling) is a poet and writer whose father is one of the governors of the Napola and Albrecht is anti-war; other lads seem on the surface to be obedient yet most have hidden reservations about what they are doing.Being 1942 some changes are occurring in the Nazi dream and the Senior class is sent out on a mission to fight the enemy. And one night Friedrich's class is called out of bed and sent into the woods to find Russian soldiers who are 'threatening' their security. The boys open fire on the Russians only to find that they have killed a number of unarmed Russian boys. This profoundly disturbs them all, but Albrecht in particular. Friedrich continues to observe the manner in which he and the other boys are used and slowly his best friends find ways to martyr themselves and ultimately Friedrich does the same in his only way - by changing the way he approaches the Napola expectations of his boxing.Max Riemelt as Friedrich is outstanding: not only does he have the solid extraordinary good looks but he also can act, satisfying every nuance of this challenging role. The remainder of the cast - both young boys and the adults running the Napola - are superb. The cinematography is subtly beautiful, ranging from the tough interiors inside to the vistas of a Germany before it was destroyed by the not too distant fall. Director Dennis Gansel, who co-wrote the script with Maggie Peren, is a young man (the featurette with the DVD has an enlightening conversation between Gansel and Riemelt) knows exactly how to capture both the wide-eyed innocence of youth and the slowly crumbled ideals of young men. This is an outstanding film to see and experience. Its lessons are terrifying and intense. In German with English subtitles. Grady Harp
Contains slight spoilers.This is one of a new breed of German films (like 'The Downfall') that takes a new look at the Nazi period. It is not afraid to show how attractive Nazism actually seemed to most Germans at the time and to show 'nice' characters happily giving the Hitler salute. Not that the film is in any way pro-Nazi -- quite the reverse.Here we have a story about an élite school for future Nazi leaders. A working-class boy who is good at boxing is given a place there, where he makes friends with the sensitive son of the local Nazi leader. The brutality of the system eventually pushes both of them to become outsiders. Two suicides tellingly punctuate the story.The acting is outstanding throughout, especially by the young stars of the film. Max Riemelt is particularly good as the boxer. The character is meant to be a doer rather than a thinker, unlike his friend, but Riemelt manages the transition from easy-going and rather empty-headed Hitler youth to someone who is prepared to stand against the inhumanity of Nazism.The plot contains some powerful dramatic set pieces, such as the scene with the hand grenades and the one where the students dive under a frozen lake. These are brilliantly handled by the director and screenwriter, Dennis Gansel. He manages to bring out the full drama of them without overdoing it or lurching into melodrama or pathos.I'm not generally a great fan of German films, many of which tend to be either self-consciously arty or trashily commercial. This is the best one I've seen since Das Boot.
"Just finished watching "Things fall apart "starring 50 cent,and some other great stars like Lynn Whitfield, and others, it was an interesting movie , and he did a great job , but i have to say , he still got ways to go the movie was 3-outa 5 for me ,considering all the senior stars , and Lynn Whitfield - did her thing... but some reason emotional- i just couldn't get into it , and it lacked depth, and compassion, however the movie is going to be a great DVD , and looking forward to more projects from him-fifty cent a.k.a Curtis James Jackson III, i also admired his commitment to the film,with the weight loss and more, I am sure in the future , there will be more to come
This is another one of those good old southern sagas that shows how the old southern decadence and certain tradition was truly falling apart by the mid 20th Century. Writers like Tennessee Williams, William Inge and here Horton Foote developed strong character and family studies about troubled individuals dealing with long-lasting resentments and hidden secrets. Here, Steve McQueen's Henry is coming to terms with being a paroled convict sent up by his only living relative, now a dying old lady who considers him no good. He's married to Lee Remick and has a young daughter and rather than go to night school to find a trade like his old relative wants, he becomes involved in a band, singing and making an effort to be as honest as he can.The film starts with Remick on a bus heading out to meet her husband after he gets out dealing with an old woman on the bus who has nothing good to say about the prison farm workers. This puts ideas in a little girl's head that remix doesn't want her to have, and when she finally reconciles with her husband, it's obvious that they are doing their best in spite of the odds to make things work. But McQueen is still troubled greatly, dealing with local prejudice and the reputation he has gotten thanks to his past and family gossip.Strong supporting performances by Don Murray, Estelle Helmsley and Josephine Hutchinson add to the strengths of this drama ably directed by Robert Mulligan of "To Kill a Mockingbird". You want to root for McQueen, but the troubles two faces are deeply embedded into his psyche, and while he's making a grave effort to adapt to a new life, the odds throughout the film seem to be against him. That creates good drama and good material for Remick and McQueen to work off of. However, it is often a bit depressing even though the musical sequences including the often her title song do live in things up. Glen Campbell is among the members of the band he performs with. 041b061a72