A friend with a particular interest in Eastern European cinema showed me this and for the first three-quarters of an hour (it runs two and three quarter hours) I really couldn't get into it. Then suddenly everything clicked and by the end I was convinced I had seen a great film. At the outbreak of the Second World War two students are called up to serve in the German Army and are assigned at first to an ack ack unit but later, as the war progresses, they see front line combat against the advancing Russians. One of the young men is patriotic enough to be drawn along by the propaganda about defending the Fatherland without being totally convinced by the nazis while the other is a fanatical supporter of Hitler. The former boy (the eponymous Werner Holt) becomes more and more disenchanted with the fascist regime as he sees the horrors perpetrated by the SS, the senseless brutality and the concentration camps but although he openly challenges his friend on several occasions he can never quite bring himself to desert him or the German cause. Made in East Germany the film never offers simple answers as it shows a world where basic human decency and morality have been turned topsy turvy. The ensemble cast are excellent by special mention must be made of
Klaus Peter Thiele (who bears a strong resemblance to Ryan Gosling) as Werner. The film also contains some disturbingly black humour.
|Die Abenteuer des Werner Holt|