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13 Minutes

In This Corner Of The World

Augstu 17, 2017

13 Minutes (***) R

There have been so many WWII era movies that another one hardly makes a blip these days. What sets the new German import 13 Minutes apart from so many others is that it dramatizes a story that most have either read about or, at the very least, learned about in history classes but probably know few details.

It’s the tale of George Elser (ably portrayed by Christian Friedel), a resistance fighter who set up an explosive device inside the lectern of Adolph Hitler that was intended to put an end to his rise to power in November 1939. Unfortunately, Hitler left early (13 minutes to be exact, hence the film’s title), Elser was detained while attempting to hightail it to Switzerland and the rest is history. The film makes an attempt to dramatize both the aftermath and the events leading up to Elser’s capture by authorities.

Elser’s backstory is told in flashbacks that take the narrative back to the year 1932.

Christian Friedel in 13 Minutes

The film flashes both forward and backward as the film’s dramatizes both Elser’s political awakenings and Hitler’s rise to power. Elser’s romance with a married woman trapped in an abusive marriage also takes up a good chunk of the film’s narrative. They eventually conceive a child together, which undoubtedly played a part in Elser’s decision to take a stand for the greater good. After all, who would want a child coming of age in a world dominated by Hitler? It’s clear that’s a question Elser must have asked himself at some point.

Kudos must be given to the pitch perfect evocation of WWII era Germany that dominates the film. Though we’ve seen the time and place recreated in many films dealing with this subject, this one can go toe to toe with the best of them in terms of production design.

No one will ever accuse 13 Minutes of being subtle in its message. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Certainly there are parallels that can be drawn to current events, regardless of whether this was the intention of the filmmakers or not. It serves to remind us of the dangerous waters that misguided leaders who are drunk with power can lead us into if a society isn’t paying dynamic and vigorous attention.  If nothing else 13 Minutes could serve perfectly well as a cautionary tale and that would be fine with me.

13 Minutes is playing in Charlotte at the Regal Park Terrace Stadium 6.
 
In This Corner of the World (***) PG-13

 In This Corner of the World is based on the Japanese Manga, an illustrated story similar to the graphic novel in America. As such it brilliantly utilized that form of storytelling in order to humanize the struggles of the survivors of the August 1945 nuclear destruction of Hiroshima. It has now been adapted into a beautiful animated film made in the old fashioned two-dimensional style of hand drawn animation that was the standard for most of the twentieth century. What makes the picture stand apart from so many similar films is that it relates its story from the viewpoint of the Japanese, an approach that is lacking with far too many of these films. It proves once again the value of being allowed the experience to see things from an alternate point of view outside of our own, something that is sadly lacking in our current political climate. If audiences would take the time to see the film perhaps some valuable lessons could be gleaned.

The Corner of the film’s title would be the Hiroshima port of Kure. Suzu is a plucky girl who spends most of her time daydreaming while living her day to day life in the town of Eba.

Suzu, in In This Corner of the World

Suzu’s fantasies are part of her coping mechanism as her country becomes enmeshed in WWII and her family has come to expect this from her. She marries and runs away with her new husband to nearby Kure. The way things are depicted in the film we’re not really sure whether Suzu is really married or if this is just another of her fantasies taking root. As the film goes on it becomes apparent that Suzu really has married and has begun a new phase of her life. The film follows her as the horrors of war take their eventual toll on Suzu and her family, who mostly remained in the small town in which she grew up.

The film really scores high in the scenes where it depicts Hiroshima in the days before the war, giving us a sense of what things were like. Suzu attempts to keep her family close but there’s only so much that can be done and once the bomb is dropped life changes forever for both Suzu and her family.

If there is a quibble to be made it would be that In This Corner of the World suffers from pacing issues that bog the film down. It’s way too leisurely, especially in its first hour, but for those willing to be patient with it this is a film that more than compensates for its tendency toward overlength with its beautiful life affirming portrait.

In This Corner Of The World is not currently playing in this area.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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