Robert Schwentke | Germany/France/Poland | 2017
|Director: Robert Schwentke|
Producer: Frieder Schlaich
Screenplay: Robert Schwentke
Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus
Editor: Michal Czarnecki
Music: Martin Todsharow
|Max Hubacher (Willi Herold)|
Alexander Fehling (Junker)
Sebastian Rudolph (Gefreiter Paul)
Max Thommes (Bursche)
Rike Eckermann (Farmer’s Wife)
Jörn Hentschel (Farmer)
Rating: R16 violence & cruelty Runtime: 118 minutes
The harsh reality of war is again a dark cloud in Europe with Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine which began in 2022. Robert Schwentke’s film The Captain, is from another war in Europe, though the darkness of the WWII conflict still feels contemporary as we are witness to the evil men do to each other.
As the war draws to a close in Europe, a young German paratrooper and army deserter, Willi Herold, by chance, comes across a Nazi captain’s uniform. He assumes the identity of the (presumably deceased) captain, and brings together a group of other deserters who begin a killing spree, with each death giving Herold more of a sense of power, and the path through blood allows no constraint. The very deserters who were trying to escape the horror of war become the chief tormenters and executioners and this film doesn’t shy away from the reality of the terror they create.
Robert Schwenkte and his cinematographer Florian Ballhaus are both German and have been working in Hollywood for the past couple of decades, but for this film, they returned to Germany for what is clearly a much more personal film.
“The stark beauty of Florian Ballhaus’s black-and-white cinematography and painterly framing can’t conceal the ugliness that unfolds as the death toll mounts and Herold starts to believe his own grotesque creation.”
—Wendy Ide, The Guardian
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