Labyrinth of Lies (2014)

Original Title

Im Labyrinth des Schweigens


Drama | History


Giulio Ricciarelli




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."


  1. I'm looking forward to this, I believe it comes on Netflix next week. Great review!

    1. I'll have to wait months to rewatch this on Netflix since it just came out in theaters here and the US Netflix has been banned in Italy.

  2. I have not heard of this but it sounds like a very good film. I don't think that if the film was purely made by Germany it would be too cold or analytical. It depends who is behind the camera because, I have to say, this sounds a little bit like placing the Germans in this small window. I can't find the right word but it would be like saying all Canadians are polite. I wish I could find the right word. This could also be my way of interpreting it so you must forgive me. My mom is German and she was 17 when the war ended and she endured great hardship especially after the war when the Russians marched in. When my mom found out what had happened to the Jewish people, she, at first, did not believe it. She did not grow up in a large city but in a small town and was quite naive plus one has to truly read what happened at that time and think what was occurring to the German average Joe. To this day, she hangs her head, saddened by what had happened in her country. When she came to Canada she was spat upon and called a Nazi and a white n*ger believe it or not. It was disgusting! I know, when she was 14-15 or so, she passed by a "plant" and there was a man who saw her with a sandwich and asked for a piece. Her mom told her to give it to him quickly and so she did. She ended up going there at a certain time and giving him a sandwich and he made her a ring (which she lost). She never thought once what might be going on. I found out, in the last 2 years, that she actually was part of a resistance movement and she helped blow up bridges (she was small enough to set the dynamite) against her own countrymen. After the war a very disheveled man came to their home...he was Jewish and my grandparents gave him something to eat even though they were starving. They also gave him some clothes...later one, maybe 6 months or more, he returned with much needed food, clothing and shoes. Gosh I do go on don't I but I just feel sad about what war can do and how, nowadays, many people feel all Germans must have been Nazis and all must have known. I believe many did know..I think my grandparents knew something was up but not to the extent that came out later but they knew they or their children may disappear. Since my mom was already taken out from their home because she was not getting the proper teaching plus my grandfather was sent to a camp because he was labeled a Communist, I can understand about not saying too much. How many people in our country don't want to get involved and it is for something even much less? OMG Look at me go on..I guess it struck a nerve for me but i hope you can forgive my long winded spiel....

    1. I know I was probably wrong generalizing about Germans. I'm the first one to love Germany, Germans and their culture in spite of the bloody awful history of the 20th Century. Your story almost brought me to tears because all that happened it's just so ugly, one just don't want to believe that. I understand why Germans tried to forget as hard as they could, and some were on the point to believe it was propaganda. It wasn't just about being naive.