Labyrinth of Lies Film Review

Film Review by Cam Eagle

The Premise
A story that exposes the conspiracy of prominent German institutions and government branches to cover up the crimes of Nazis during World War II.

The Review
In Germany, 15 years after World War II, one man forces an entire country to face its past. Alexander Fehling plays Johann Radmann, the prosecutor who challenges the apathetic culture by seeking to bring the wartime crimes to justice in a time when everyone else doesn’t want to know the truth. They are content with the sugar coating of society. He comes up against the reality that the public sector is full of Nazis who have nothing to fear, and the common opinion, “all you will achieve is open old wounds that were beginning to heal.”

Radmann realises that to hush it all up is poison and wants the lies and the silence to end. The black and white telling of good versus evil is well done and after being stretched to breaking point, Radmann is convinced he owes his pursuit to the victims and that the only right response to Auschwitz is to do the right thing. This echoes Edmund Burke’s quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

This poignant, disturbingly true account takes advantage of showing rather than telling what happened through ordinary people. This movie reminds us that as people we are all capable of atrocious acts and begs the question, ‘if I had been there what would I have done?’ It also exposes the depths that some went to, sometimes when following orders, and sometimes when following one’s own volition.

A pin drop moment is when one survivor talks about his family and asks ‘why are they dead and I’m alive?’

The whole narrative is at times beautifully scripted. In one such account we see Radmann with his estranged girlfriend in her dressmaking shop talking about whether a tear in his jacket can be repaired.

This is a Labyrinth. Don’t lose yourself in it.

The Verdict
Alexander Fehling and the rest of the cast do a superb job in this excellent movie. It is worthy of many accolades and is a brave movie for German film makers to produce, considering it doesn’t sell Germany very well; however that’s also the point; to sell Germany without acknowledging its past is to sugarcoat this genocide.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 23rd June 2016
Rating: TBC
Duration: 124 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Alexander Fehling, André Szymanski, Friederike Becht, Johann von Bülow, Hansi Jochmann, Robert Hunger-Bühler, Gert Voss, Johannes Krisch, Peter Cieslinski
Director: Giulio Ricciarelli (Debut Feature Film)

The Extras
Labyrinth of Lies was chosen as Germany's submission to the category of Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards in 2016.

The film is based on the life of Fritz Bauer, Frankfurt's attorney general, and of three prosecutors who were instrumental to the holding of the 1963 holding of the "Auschwitz trial".