Film Review: The Captain

Chaos reigned on the German side towards the end of the Second World War. With soldiers separated from their groups, communications down or sporadic and the Allies pushing through at random different points across an ever-shifting front, it became every man for himself. All this confusion allowed senior officers to flee; slip into the background or quietly disappear. This was the case with Willi Herold, the subject of The Captain (Der Hauptmann), who used the turmoil to his advantage.

It’s two weeks before the end of the World War II. Willi Herold (Max Hubacher)is a young German deserter who is running for his life. When he finds an empty car containing a Nazi officer’s uniform he decides to wear it to avoid execution. He manages to collect a ragtag band of soldiers who have become separated from their units; convincing them that he’s on a special mission from the Führer himself. Using his new-found position, he sets about satisfying his sadistic whims.

The Captain is a hedonistic war drama which delves into the realms of comedy and absurdity in order to enhance the horror of Herold’s deeds. Director Robert Schwentke places him in a number of situations that could go either way, but respect for authority always wins out. It’s beautifully shot by Florian Ballhaus in dark and desultory monochrome and there’s a great central performance from Hubacher. The Captain is a tale of evil. An evil which is allowed to operate within a tolerating system.

The Captain is out in cinemas from 21st September.

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