Im Labyrinth des Schweigens
Drama | History
Alexander Fehling, Johannes Krisch, Friederike Becht, Hansi Jochmann, Johann von Bülow, Gert Voss, Robert Hunger-Bühler, André Szymanski, Tim Williams
In post-World War II Germany, most of Germans are sick of the war and prefer to push their guilt to the back of their mind. Thing are about to change when journalist Thomas Gnielka (Johannes Krisch) identifies a teacher in the playground as a former guard from Auschwitz, and young prosecutor Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) decides to investigate the case.
The Nuremberg trials are famous, and the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in known to most, but there's a moment in history unknown to most. A period of indifference and nescience when Germans themselves, especially, either wanted to forget or were completely unaware of what had happened during WWII.
Giulio Ricciarelli's debut film "Labyrinth of Lies" has the aesthetics of a film made for television but understands the complexity of its subject matter, and is an excellent thought-provoking film on a historical period when people looked forward with confidence, trying to forget.
German-Italian Ricciarelli, who co-wrote the screenplay with Elisabeth Bartel, well-exploited the knowledge gap between the audience and the protagonist, and managed to bring emotions in a film that if made by a German would have probably been too distant, cold and analytical.
Also, the film makes you think without judging. As the director said in an interview "a film can't put itself on a pedestal and judge. We all are human and we must understand that human beings are capable both of good and bad things. You can't judge people while sitting on a chair, when you do not know what you would have done in given situation".
The decision to not dwell on sad images of concentration camps, already familiar to the audience, but to pause on the shocked faces of those who listen to those heart-breaking stories for the first time is remarkable.
The screenplay, however, is quite flawed. While the monologues are usually very catching and filled with emotions, most of the conversations are bland, and don't deliver much. Quite unfortunate is also the decision to include a love story. Rather distracting, and predictable, it's also unnecessary as it's hard to connect to the relationship or the protagonist's love interest.
Alexander Fehling, known for his role in Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" gives a very emotional performance as young prosecutor Johann Radmann, and brings to the screen to perfection the inner growth of the character.
"No one thought. We just had to open our eyes."