Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 22:
A GERMAN LIFE
Christian Krönes, Florian Weigensamer, Olaf Müller, and Roland Schrotthofer
Visions du Réel 2016
Munich, Jerusalem, DMZ, Docslisboa, Docpoint, Zagreb Dox, One World, It’s All True, CNEX Doc, Bergen, Jewish fests in San Francisco, UK, Washington, and Barcelona
Joseph Goebbel’s secretary looks back on her life.
In Krönes, Weigensamer, Müller, and Schrotthofer’s captivating portrait, Brunhilde Pomsel is presented in stark black and white, her wrinkled face framed in close-up, underlining her 103 years, as she recounts how she came to work for the notorious Nazi Propaganda Minister. Intercut with these reflections are quotations from Goebbels and footage from the period produced by both Germany and Allied forces. Pomsel notes that she was apolitical and, beyond that, “one of the cowards,” and that, despite what viewers might want to think about themselves, they too would likely have complied rather than resisted when faced with the Nazi regime. At the same time, Pomsel offers contradictory views about what she did and didn’t know about the actions of the Nazi high command for which she worked – she claims not to know what was being done to the Jews in concentration camps, but her friendship with a Jewish friend who suffered under the Nazis is a recurrent thread here. Still, the filmmakers aren’t engaged in some kind of trial here – instead, they allow the centenarian’s words to underscore the human costs of compliance and expose the moral complicity in unquestioningly permitting hatred and persecution to become the new normal.