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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Holocaust > Bonhoeffer (Documentary)

Bonhoeffer (Documentary)


Picture: C+     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Documentary: B



The idea of a priest of any faith standing up against an evil scourge is automatically taken today as a joke in the current atmosphere of scandal, hate and politics, but it does not make such a thing untrue.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer is such a man, who followed his faith to the point where he battled the betrayal of a church and of Germany in Martin Doblmeier’s strong documentary Bonhoeffer (2003).


With his own thoughts form letters and text read by the great actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, we see how he was unhappy about changes in Europe, his visit to the U.S. and New York’s then-African American hub of Harlem, then seeing their plight as parallel to those of European (and especially German) Jews brought him to the strongest actions he could muster.  He was part of the first small pocket of resistance to the new Nazi regime.  As the always involving 90 minutes goes on, it leads up to the greatest moment of his struggle that almost worked: the briefcase bombing of Hitler that nearly, but sadly failed to kill him.  The one so greatly reenacted in Dan Curtis’ incredible min-series classic War & Remembrance, both boxed sets of which are covered elsewhere on this site.


This is the untold story of the Christian, one of countless many, who did not betray either European Jews or their own human race in the face of Fascism and the original Axis of Evil.  After al the controversies over Mel Gibson’s Passion (which should have stayed at its shorter title) that included accusations of anti-Semitism, it is great to see the truth about the real history where that shallow division and hatred is turned on its ear.  Bonhoeffer is a long-overdue story which deserves the wildest possible audience.


The letterboxed 1.85 X 1 image is composed of old historical footage, stills and new interviews, so its above average results are to be expected.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has some Pro Logic surround information, which helps make the dialogue clearer, even when it is German with burned-in English subtitles.  Those subtitles are of a higher quality than usual, which is another plus.  Extras include a generous assortment of text segments authored by the title subject, a brief interview with director Doblmeier, a brief stills gallery, and a set of trailers for other First Run Features DVDs, including this one.


This had a solid run in independent theaters for good reason; it is another great untold story of WWII and The Holocaust that is a must-see.  Thanks to DVD and filmmakers and journalists who are serious about getting vital stories told that are oddly and disturbingly being ignored by even the most respectable mainstream media, we can see the best we can be at the worst times, especially when the world seems determined to drift back to its worst self.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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