Sophie's choice: Confess to Nazis or face execution
Several recent movies ranging from "Munich" to "Eight Below" have been "inspired by" true stories, although the factual connections are somewhat tenuous. As a fact-based drama, "Sophie Scholl - The Final Days," an Oscar nominee for best foreign-language film, is on much more solid ground. It's about Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine, who, at 21, was arrested and summarily executed in 1943 as a member of the underground resistance movement.
Sophie's story has been told before, most prominently in Michael Verhoeven's "The White Rose," but this new film, which was directed by Marc Rothemund from a screenplay by Fred Breinersdorfer, is the first to utilize previously unpublished Gestapo transcripts of the interrogation of Sophie (Julia Jentsch) and her brother Hans (Fabian Hinrichs). The realization that we are, in many instances, listening in on actual proceedings gives the film an immediacy that no dramatist could hope to match.
The film begins as Sophie and Hans are captured while covertly distributing pamphlets at the Munich university where they are studying. (The student resisters call themselves The White Rose.) Both are arrested and kept apart from each other. Sophie's interrogator, the Gestapo agent Robert Mohr (Alexander Held), is a practiced criminologist and yet, in their initial cross examination, she is so convincing in her denials that he is prepared to let her go.
The film is told entirely from Sophie's point of view, which gives the film a gathering atmosphere of inescapable dread. Although she is an expert liar who never once flinches or betrays the slightest hesitation in her responses, inevitably the evidence mounts against her and she proudly proclaims the rightness of her nonviolent resistance to the Reich.