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A Reel Life film section

Issue: March, 2016

Labyrinth of Lies (2014) movie review
(Im Labyrinth des Schweigens)

The Cost of Remembering

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movie poster, Labyrinth of Lies, Festivale film review; 300x445

Movie poster, Labyrinth of Lies
In Germany, 15 years after World War II, one young man forces an entire country to face its past.

Based on the true events of the investigation that lead to the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials. 1958 and the new democracy of (West) Germany. The war is 15 years behind them, and the German people are moving on. For young people such as prosecutor Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) and Marlene Wondrak (Friederike Becht) World War II is a distant memory. They are young, and happy, and have vague impressions of the "holding camps" and the roles their own parents played during the war.

movie still, Labyrinth of Lies, Festivale film review; 499x319

Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) and Marlene Wondrak (Friederike Becht) carefree and in love in post-war Germany

Radmann is new to the office and spends his days dealing with traffic violations and dreaming of bigger things. When journalist Thomas Gnielka (André Szymanski) makes a scene trying to get justice for his friend artist and ex-Auschwitz inmate Simon Kirsch (Johannes Krisch) Radmann secretly follows up. Simon has recognised in a local teacher an official from Auschwitz.

As the curious, and ambitious Radmann investigates he meets with resistance, apathy, lies, and the discouragement of his superior. However the Hessian Prosecutor General Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss) supports and encourages Radmann. The statute of limitations has enabled Nazis to remain free unless they can be found guilty of murder.

Radmann is allowed to investigate, to leave the ghetto of motor vehicle infringements and read the mountains of paperwork left behind by the Nazis.

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Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) in Labyrinth of Lies

Labyrinth of Lies is a story about people. The suffering of Simon Kirsh is very real, as is that of the people Radmann interviews. Much of the horror is not detailed, instead we see and hear the horrified and heart-broken reactions of Radmann and his secretary. As the story progresses the way that the Nazis have integrated themselves back into all levels of society, and the level of denial and ignorance are revealed. The horrors that were hidden, the identities of the mundane people who committed such atrocities were forgotten until Radmann's investigation brought them forward.

What was distant and nebulous becomes close and frighteningly real, and the true human cost of Hitler's rule begins to make its way back into the national consciousness.

A German language film, with English subtitles, Labyrinth of Lies is compelling viewing. A story about forgetting the lessons of history is in itself a lesson of history. We must remember, we must grant justice, and we must find acceptance.

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by Ali Kayn
Australian release 31 March 2016
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: Labyrinth of Lies (2014)
Written by: Giulio Ricciarell (screenplay) Elisabeth Bartel (scr, screen story) Amelie Syberberg (collaboration on screenplay)
Directed by: Giulio Ricciarelli
Running time: 121 mins
Rating: M

The Players: Alexander Fehling, Friederike Becht,

Official website: official_site
IMDb entry

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