Amen – **(*)

Posted: December 7, 2014 in 2002, Drama, France, Germany, Historical, Holocaust, War, XX1/2

First the bad thing: this is a French/German production taking place in Germany and the Vatican, but everyone speaks English! Why do producers still believe that subtitles will harm the commercial success of a movie! (it will, for sure, but still)

Then the good news: it’s an important story that needs to be told. The inventor of the Zyklon B gas, Kurt Gerstein, is horrified when he learns what the Nazis do with his invention in the concentration camps. He pleads with the evangelical and catholic church to openly condemn these practices, but finds no response. One Jesuit priest has connections in the vatican and tries his best to get the pope to act firmly on the matter.

And finally the result: Amen tells the story like it should be told in school. It’s pretty neutral in explaining why certain instances did or did not do certain acts. The actual atrocities are not shown but suggested, making the movie accessible for a large audience. The criticism towards the cowardness of the evangelical and catholic churches is gentle, not harming their cause too much. So all you’re left behind with is a solid history lesson which could have been made for any tv channel.

For once they could have added more drama to the story. And spent more detail on character development. Ultrich Tukur and Mattieu Kassovitz are doing an okay job, but seem so remote in their performance. The same with all the others in the cast apart from Urlich Mühe, who steals the show as the successful bad guy. They all say their lines, they have their emotional expressions at the right time, but something is missing. They could have stressed the inner conflict more. After all, this story is all about the failure of certain instances to intervene in one of the most horrible events in recent history and everyone just acts like they don’t feel responsible.

This said, history is repeating itself at the very moment. Maybe schools should show this movie to their classes. Maybe in the end it’s good that it’s made in English so it reaches a larger audience.


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