Naked Among Wolves
Sound: C+ Extras: B- Film: B-
Many films have dealt with men being stuck in
concentration camps, but the East German production Naked Among Wolves
(1963) has the novel twist of a prisoner hiding a child in his briefcase. The Frank Beyer-directed work (he did the
original Jakob The Liar, reviewed elsewhere on this site) is an early
collaboration with the internationally acclaimed actor Armin Mueller-Stahl and
does not shy away from the torture and techniques in which The Nazis went out
of their way to keep order and create extensive terror.
Though these are English translations we are talking of,
some of the dialogue is too trite when it could be devoted to more progressive
ideas and situations, but Bruno Apitz and Beyer still come up with a convincing
and realistic enough portrait of the camp and its inhabitants that you keep
watching. Though the film has aged, it
offers a unique look at a familiar situation through eyes audiences have not
seen enough - those of German filmmakers under Communist oppression. With that said, not as many ideas that exist
are as held back as you would think, which helps it age over 40 years later.
The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 x 1 black and white image
is not bad, though it has some detail troubles. Gunter Marczinkowski’s cinematography is not bad, though it is
sometimes not as exciting or exceptional as you might expect, instead offering
above average composition and more static shots than expected. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono is as clear as
can be expected for a film its age.
Extras are more than usual, including many newsreel clips, text essay on
the film, text on the DEFA catalog, text bio/filmography information, stills,
trailer for this, the upcoming Verdict On Auschwitz and other First Run
DVD titles. That is very well rounded
and a plus for an interesting title.
- Nicholas Sheffo