Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
Original title: Der Neunte Tag
Germany/Luxembourg/Czech Republic, 2004. Provobis Film, Videopress S.A., Bayerischer Rundfunk, BeltFilm, ARTE. Screenplay by Eberhard Gorner, Andreas Pfluger, based on the memoir Pfarrerblock 25487 by Jean Bernard. Cinematography by Tomas Erhart. Produced by Jurgen Haase, Jakob Hausmann, Benigna von Keyserlingk. Music by Lev Markiz. Production Design by Ari Hantke. Costume Design by Jarmila Konecna. Film Editing by Peter R. Adam. European Film Awards 2005. Toronto International Film Festival 2004.
A Catholic priest is released from a Nazi concentration camp where he has been held with a number of his colleagues and sent home to Luxembourg, told that he has nine days to spend with his family. The man is unaware of the nature of his release but is grateful to be allowed to be with his loved ones, then understands the reason when he is approached by an SS Gestapo lieutenant who tries to convince him to talk to the local bishop who has been resisting the Germans (successfully); our hero has been enlisted to have him write to the Vatican and instruct the Pope to support Hitler’s Third Reich. It’s a fascinating slice of the myriad of tales that emerged from the devastation of World War II, but as is so often the case with Volker Schlondorff’s films, the characters are kept at an unlikable distance and the ice never really melts. Schlondorff often favours a flat visual style that goes along with unmotivated writing, making all the excellent performances seem like they’re happening too far away from the audience’s perspective.