Just when you think that you have seen all there is to about the Holocaust along comes Giulio Ricciarelli’s (first film) Labyrinth of Lies. It is one of the most moving films about that awful period of human history and it happens years after World War II has ended. This is about the aftermath and how Germans are attempting to move on without looking back or acknowledging what happened.
While this film is so successful is because it is told at a very personal level. As I was watching I thought about how the same thing is happening right now. We are ignoring what is happening to Native women right here in Canada. We are largely ignoring what is happening in Syria. We have learned nothing. Watching a film like this is important to drill home the fact that we should never forget.
Fifteen years after World War II in Germany it seems like the citizens have forgotten everything that has to do with the War. Most seem to have even forgotten what took place at concentration camps like Auschwitz. All want to forget as quickly as possible.
Young prosecutor Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling – Inglourious Basterds) decides to go against the grain and begins looking into a teacher who a camp survivor has identified as a former Auschwitz guard. Against the wishes of all of the senior prosecutors Johann surges forward wanting to find all who were former guards at the camp.
His commitment to the cause is second to none and it becomes the primal focus of his life. Johann wants to find out everything about what really happened at Auschwitz. This singlemindedness puts all his relationships in jeopardy including his love, Marlene (Friederike Becht – The Reader).
Without ever really showing the atrocities that happened at Auschwitz and other camps during World War II, Labyrinth of Lies still makes you feel the severity. Very effective. It also looks at the post War world from the perspective of the Germans. How they attempted to just move on without dealing with what they had done. It brings about many questions as a result such as can we hold individuals responsible for following their governments in times of war? Were the trials that happened at Nuremberg enough?
Yes, the romance in the film is a little forced and the plot is pretty formulaic, but the overall message behind it is what is important. The truth is often the hardest things to deal with. Especially if it is unobscured and looked at right in the face. The lesson to be learned is that we can never let ourselves off the hook.
-Commentary with Guilio Ricciarelli and Alexander Pehling
-L.A. Jewish Film Festival Q+A with Giulio Ricciarelli and Alexander Fehling
-Previews of Irrational Man, Truth, Son of Saul, Granma, Coming Home, The Lady in the Van