Based on a True Story • 1h 28m
Directed by Volker Schlöndorff • Drama • With André Dussollier, Niels Arestrup, Burghart Klaußner • 2014 • 85 minutes
As the Allies march toward Paris in the summer of 1944, Hitler gives orders that the French capital should not fall into enemy hands, or if it does, then ‘only as a field of rubble’. The person assigned to carry out this barbaric act is Wehrmacht commander of Greater Paris, General Dietrich von Choltitz, who already has mines planted on the Eiffel Tower, in the Louvre and Notre Dame and on the bridges over the Seine. Nothing should be left as a reminder of the city’s former glory. However, at dawn on 25 August, Swedish Consul General Raoul Nordling steals into German headquarters through a secret underground tunnel and there starts a tension-filled game of cat and mouse as Nordling tries to persuade Choltitz to abandon his plan. In this riveting adaptation of the stage success by Cyril Gély, the great Volker Schlöndorff (Academy Award winner THE TIN DRUM) has created a psychologically elaborate game of political manners between two highly contrasting characters. While Choltitz entrenches himself behind his duty to obey unquestioningly all military orders, Nordling tries everything he can to appeal to reason and humanity and prevent the senseless destruction of the beloved ‘City of Light.’
"FASCINATING... [Schlöndorff’s] precise, restless camera creates a feeling of claustrophobic suspense as the plot races against the clock." -- A.O. Scott - The New York Times
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