Synopsis by Mark Deming
One of the Third Reich's sinister plans for training a legion of strong and obedient young men to do their bidding is exposed in this historical drama, inspired by true-life events. In 1942, Friedrich Weimer (Max Riemelt) is a 16-year-old amateur fighter who is spotted while working out at a boxing club by Heinrich Vogler (Devid Striesow). Vogler is a recruiter for the National-Political Institutes of Learning (called "NAPOLA" for short), where promising young men with various talents will be taught to hone their strength, cunning, and fearlessness to a fine point, with the ultimate goal of using NAPOLA graduates to help rule the territories Nazis will overtake once they've won the war. Vogler invites Weimer to join the NAPOLA training facility in Allenstein, and he accepts, despite the strong misgivings of his family. Weimer is at first enthusiastic and committed to his new regimen, and becomes friendly with a fellow student, Albrecht Stein (Tom Schilling), an aspiring writer whose father, a important man in the German military, would like to see him join the SS. Stein does not embrace the training with the same enthusiasm as many of his fellows, and in time he and Weimer develop feelings for one another that go beyond friendship. In time, Weimer begins to lose his enthusiasm for NAPOLA, especially after a mission to find escaped Russian prisoners leads to the death of unarmed teenagers, and he looks for a way to rebel against the repressive system. Filmmaker Dennis Gansel dedicated Before the Fall to his grandfather, Peter Fritz Gansel, a NAPOLA veteran whose stories of the school's brutality inspired the movie.
anti-Semitism, boxing, boys'-school, friendship, Nazi, training