Sophie Scholl

Director: Marc Rothemund

Germany| 2005. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 117 min.

Julia Jentsch (The Edukators) deservedly won the Best Actress award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival for her role as resistance icon Sophie Scholl. Jentsch’s ace performance as the quietly determined Munich student who was executed for distributing counter-propaganda leaflets in 1943 gives the film a focused dramatic power. Director Marc Rothemund’s telling of the story follows Sophie during the last six days of her life, from the eve of distributing the leaflets at Munich University through her arrest, interrogation, trial and beheading. The format is a familiar cinematic one, and while the movie isn’t adorned with any extra stylistic riffs, it transcends docudrama with a chilling authenticity derived from the script’s use of actual Gestapo documents and official minutes that had remained in East German archives until 1990.
As the film opens, siblings Sophie and Hans Scholl are already members of the ‘White Rose’ anti-Nazi resistance group. They’re duplicating a pamphlet saying that, following the disastrous defeat at Stalingrad, which cost 330,000 German lives, the country should sue for peace, since the war cannot be won. Their perilous mission distributing the leaflets at Munich University is grippingly portrayed, ending in their surprise arrest by a vigilant janitor. Interrogated for days by the Gestapo, Sophie manages to bluff her way through, but Hans finally confesses. With remarkable courage, Sophie speaks out about her
ideals whilst trying to protect the other group members.
Overall, the film has a cool, reasoned atmosphere that reflects the real-life Sophie’s demeanor during these days, as attested by witnesses. Though she looks and sounds nothing like the real Sophie, who had a boyish haircut and a southern German accent, Jentsch is terrific in the eponymous role, communicating her character’s utter conviction in doing the right thing for her people, with the minimum of emoting.

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