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In World War II, after a period living hell on earth in the concentration camp of Dachau with other catholic priests, Father Abbé Henri Kremer gets a nine days leave to return to his home town for his mother's funeral. Along this period, the SS Gestapo lieutenant Gebhardt tries to persuade Henri, who was born in silver-spoon and member of an influent Luxembourgian family, to convince the local bishop to give-up resisting to the Germans and write a letter to the Vatican in the name of the Catholic Church of Luxemburg convincing the Pope to support Hitler and the Nazi regime. The ambivalent Henri questions himself and the bishop what he shall do. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In the opening scene where the priests in the concentration camp celebrate Mass secretly, the celebrating priest gives the others Communion saying "Corpus Christi", with the communicant answering "Amen". But this is how Communion is done in the new Roman Rite (Novus Ordo), introduced in 1969/70. In the old Roman Rite (Tridentine Rite), that was used generally at the time the story takes place, the priest makes the sign of the Cross with the host over the paten and then says: "Corpus Domini Nostri Iesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen." ("The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ may lead your soul to eternal life.") Then he administers Communion. The communicant remains silent. See more »
Please go watch it - this is no Catholic propaganda movie
This movie has been unduly panned by IMDb critics as being Catholic propaganda, when there is hardly any. It's actually an exploration of questions on faith and morality, viewed from the perspective of Rev. Henri Kremer, a priest who has been "on leave" from Dachau to convince the Bishop of Luxemburg to support Nazism, who has been a silent opponent all throughout. At one point the film even mentions that the Pope however congratulated Hitler on his birthday - that clearly indicates the acquiescence of the Catholic world - to me that's quite the opposite of propaganda.
**** SOME SPOILERS AHEAD **** The movie chronicles each of the 9 days that Rev. Kremer is allowed, and his conversations with Gestapo officer Gebhardt. When Kremer fails to convince the Bishop, he is persuaded to write a memo himself, given his own respectability due to his family status. In return he can have all the priests in Dachau released. Kremer at one point thinks he is being like Judas betraying the Christian cause (also to be noted that his personal cash upon release amounted to 30 marks), which Gebhardt, a former theology student himself, argues is a necessary evil, because without Judas there would be no martyrdom of Christ, and hence no Christianity. Rev. Kremer also learns that by giving Nazi policies the official blessing of Catholicism, he can be responsible for the deportation of thousands - although some 40 priests could be let go from Dachau. The resulting dilemma of Kremer dominates the movie.
Ulrich Matthes is very convincing in the role of Kremer with his sunken cheeks and eyes, and watch the young actor August Diehl in the role of Untersturmfuehrer Gebhardt.
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