Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Docudrama, Political Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 17, 2006 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 117 min.  |   Countries - Germany   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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The setup is briskly sketched, and the rest of Sophie Scholl, based on historical transcripts, contains thrilling moments of actress Julia Jentsch recreating Sophie's ingenious attempts to outwit her Nazi captivators. If only the entire film could be as subtle and stark as Jentsch's performance. Sophie's story may be an interesting bit of history, but as a movie it's dramatically stagnant. At the beginning of the film, Sophie is standing up for her beliefs and she continues to do so until her death. She makes one decision, to admit to printing the fliers, but it's more out of calculation than character development. Once she admits to her "crime," Sophie feels free to speak out against the Nazi regime, and director Marc Rothemund has an irritating tendency to overly play for our sympathies when anyone would be hard-pressed to disagree with Sophie's broad pleas for truth and freedom. This comes to a head in the final trial, where the defendants face off against a red-faced, spitting caricature of a Nazi judge. There is a frustrating paucity of historical detail concerning the White Rose movement outside the immediate confines of the story. Did the newsletter and trial encourage any Germans to revolt against Hitler's regime? The ending implies that it did, but given the almost negligent German Resistance movement, it doesn't seem likely. Rothemund is more successful at painstakingly recreating the petty bureaucracies of the interrogation process and weaving Sophie's Protestant faith through the story -- a recurring visual has Sophie longingly glancing out the prison window toward the heavens. As a source of strength and hope, the detailing of her faith is artfully done. Unfortunately by the end of the film, when it becomes clear that the filmmakers are aiming for full-scale martyrdom, any depth in Sophie's holy dilemma is wiped away with a broad hagiographic flourish.