Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl - the Final Days) (2005)
Director: Marc Rothemund.
Starring: Julia Jentsch (Sophie Magdalena Scholl), Gerald Alexander Held (Robert Mohr), Fabian Hinrichs (Hans Scholl), Johanna Gastdorf (Else Gebel), André Hennicke (Richter Dr. Roland Freisler), Florian Stetter (Christoph Probst), Maximilian Brückner (Willi Graf), Johannes Suhm (Alexander Schmorell), Lilli Jung (Gisela Schertling), Klaus Händl (Lohner), Petra Kelling (Magdalena Scholl), Jörg Hube (Robert Scholl), Franz Staber (Werner Scholl), Maria Hofstätter (Wärterin), Wolfgang Pregler (Jakob Schmid).
a few students at Munich University oppose Hitler's fascist regime
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Munich, Germany. Friends Sophie Scholl and Gisela Schertling listen to American jazz on the radio and sing along with some of the English lyrics. Sophie says she has to go. She leaves.
Sophie arrives in a room where young university students are running off copies of a political leaflet. One fellows tells her: "It's about time you came." Sophie reads a part of the literature which speaks of the 330,000 German soldiers lost at Stalingrad. Hans (the brother of Sophie) says that he wants to distribute the anti-Hitler leaflets on campus. The others asks him if he's crazy. They urge him not to do it. Sophie takes the leaflets. It is easier for a woman to get through the Gestapo than a man. She walks with her brother. They will meet early next morning.
Brother and sister meet. They feel that the campus will ignite today when they read the leaflet. They go into a large building and deposit the leaflets along the halls and steps. Hans tells Sophie: "Let's get out of here." Sophie says there are still some leaflets left. There are none upstairs. So they run to the upstairs to place the rest of the leaflets. The bell rings and the students rush out into the halls. As they do Sophie pushes one of the piles of leaflets off the railing and they float down onto the students below. Sophie and Hans blend in with the other students.
They hear someone calling for them to halt. They stop and look around. A man comes from around the surrounding students and tells them: "You're under arrest! You dropped the leaflets." They are briefly questioned. The questioners find a letter that Hans is trying to destroy. The university is completely sealed off. Sophie and Hans are then taken down to Gestapo headquarters. Lisa sees them as they are taken out of the university building. She is obviously upset.
Sophie is interrogated by Robert Mohr. He goes over Sophie's background. She is a protestant and finished her studies to be a children's nurse. He says that the crime of high treason is punishable by a prison sentence or death. Mohr then shows her that the two stacks of leaflets gathered up at the university fit perfectly into her suitcase. Sophie says she had nothing to do with the leaflets except push over one pile of them on the upstairs floor sending them showering down on the students below. She says that she is apolitical. Mohr seems to go easy on her. He says he will write his report. But for now she is put in a jail cell.
Sophie is turned over to guard Else Gebel. She tells Sophie to take her clothes off. Later she takes Sophie to her cell. Else tells her that she is a prisoner herself at the jail. Else and her brother are communists. Else will be staying in the same cell with Sophie to make sure that she does not commit suicide.
Sophie is taken from her cell. She is about to sign her release form. Then suddenly things changes. She is told to follow Lohner. She is taken back to see Mohr. Mohr has learned that her father served a year in prison for making an anti-Hitler statement. She has a fiancé named Fritz Hofnagel. He served at Stalingrad. Mohr then places a German Lugar pistol on the table. It's her brother's pistol. Mohr tells her that they found her brother's fingerprints on the copying machine. And finally he tells her that her brother has confessed. He shows her his signature on the confession. Now it's time for her to confess. Sophie replies: "Yes. I'm proud of it." Mohr writes up the confession and Sophie signs it. She then goes to have her profile photos taken.
Else tells Sophie that the invasion of Germany may come in eight or ten weeks. But Sophie's mind is only on the possibility that the Gestapo will arrest her entire family.
Mohr asks her questions about the White Rose group of anti-Hitler students. He demands that she give him names of those involved. She tells him that the responsibility for the leaflets is all hers. Mohr asks her does she realize the punishment she could receive, if she accepts full responsibility. They talk about Fritz. She says that Fritz is very loyal to Hitler.
At night Sophie tries to sleep. She hears a lot of commotion outside her cell and someone screaming as if in great pain. She prays to God.
Sophie is back being questioned by Mohr. She asks him: "Why do you want to punish us?" She argues with Mohr over politics. Mohr is a committed fascist. The man seems to want to be lenient on Sophie. He tries to get her to agree that she was just a minor player in this entire leaflet affair and the White Rose group. He tells her that her life is a stake. But Sophie insists that she was just as active a player in this drama as her brother Hans. Mohr has to give up on her. He tells his assistant: "Tell the chief we're finished."
In her jail cell Sophie tells Else that Mohr offered her a way out. Else urges her to take his offer. Sophie refuses: "There's no way back." Air raid sirens go off. Else hides in the corner, but Sophie looks out the window at the firing of the anti-aircraft guns and the beams of light from the spotlights. One of her comrades, Christopher Probst, is brought to the jail. She cries. The poor man has three children and a wife.
Sophie is taken to see the prosecutor. He shows her the indictment. The trial is tomorrow. The charge is high treason, troop demoralization and aiding the enemy. Sophie prays.
She meets her defense lawyer Klein, who is a jerk. He is upset by her defiance. He tells her: "The President of the People's Court is coming from Berlin tomorrow. He'll set you straight! He'll make you feel this small! (holding his index finger close to his thumb)." He leaves. Else tells Sophie that it will be a show trial to deter others. The name of the judge is Freisler, a man well-known for his vicious rants. Sophie (in a state of delusion) says that the students will revolt when they learn what has happened to them over a little hand-out. Else tells her that even if she is found guilty, everyone is given 99 days until their execution.
Sophie learns that she will be transferred. She is placed in a police van and taken to court. There the court room attendees are mostly military. They stand up and shout "Heil Hitler!" when the judges comes in the room. The judge quickly starts with Christopher Probst. The judge bullies and insults him. In fact, the judge loves to deliver nasty diatribes against the defendants. Probst tries to diminish his offense and says that he admitted everything. Hans is next. The judge calls him a parasite, among other things. Hans is more defiant than Christopher. He manages to say a couple of defiant statements. Finally it is Sophie's turn. She has less success in being heard because her voice is much lower that than of the men's voices. When the judge tires of brow-beating the defendants, he says the hearing of evidence is finished. The so-called defense lawyers only say "No!" when asked if they have any questions. From the docket Sophie tells Freisler: "You will soon be standing where we stand now."
February 22, 1943. The verdicts are all guilty and the sentences are all death. Sophie shouts: "Your terror will soon be over!" And Hans shouts: "You may hang us today, but you'll be hanged tomorrow."
Sophie receives another shock. The execution will be today, the day of the sentencing. She was expecting 99 days. She just has time to write a letter to Fritz. She has visitors. She goes to the visiting room and sees her father and mother. Her father tells her: "You did the right thing. I'm proud of you."
Prison Minister Alt prays with Sophie. She is taken from her cell and put in a room with Christopher and Hans. They have a group hug. Sophie goes first. She gets another surprise. She will be guillotined.
In all, death sentences were given to seven members of the White Rose. Harsh sentences were handed down for twelve others. Others also received tough sentences.
Thanks to Helmut von Moltke, the sixth leaflet of the White Rose was taken to England via Scandinavia. In mid-1943, millions of copies were dropped by Allied planes over Germany.
Good movie. It is a very inspiring film. You have to admire Sophie and the others for sticking their necks out in a country run by the madman Hitler. To do so almost certainly would end in death in such a fascist country. Some of the debate between Sophie and Mohr was a little boring. Being a Hitler fascist automatically puts in disrepute anything Mohr might say. But I suppose this must have pleased the German audiences who wanted to see a fascist given his come-uppance. Julia Jentsch was great as Sophie Magdalena Scholl. (Watch the second disc on the other side. Several interesting interviews with people who knew Sophie and/or Mohr.)
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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