The Captain (2017) Poster

(2017)

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If you want to test man's character, give him power
val-soph5 April 2018
An interesting movie for 2 main reasons: 1) it shows the fragilities of the Nazi Germany towards the end of the war, with many German soldiers deserting the army (something nobody talks about) and 2) it shows the depths of the human ego and the decadence of character when power is given arbitrarily
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9/10
The beast within
barta-4697817 March 2018
The film revolves around authority, the trust we tend to have towards a person we endow with authority, official ranks, hierarchy, "Kameradschaft", the sense of belonging to a group, and (for me at least), egoism in general. It is also quite brutal and sadistic. The story itself, with the most improbable twists, is taken from a real life story at the end of the war. It is rare in war films to have the perspective of the criminal. We do not sympathise with him, but rather he impersonates the beast in every one of us. Another merit of the film is quite natural: German actors can of course impersonate German soldiers better than for example US ones, it also gives a realistic touch to the film as opposed to US war movies featuring evil nazis. The message of the film was for me clear and delivered with a great impression - I will not write it here as it would be flat in my words.
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7/10
corruption by power
ferguson-626 July 2018
Greetings again from the darkness. It's mind-boggling how many fascinating stories - both large and small - continue to come from World War II, even 75 years later. Writer/director Robert Schwentke (RED, FLIGHTPLAN) abruptly opens his latest with a single soldier desperately running from a posse of Nazi soldiers who appear to be hunting him down. The soldier manages to escape, kicking off an incredible journey that we are informed occurred during the final two weeks of the war (April 1945).

Max Hubacher stars as Willi Herold, the soldier we are to assume has deserted his military outfit and is now dirty, hungry and cold as he evades German patrols. Things change drastically for Herold when he stumbles on an abandoned suitcase neatly packed with a German Captain's coat and full uniform. We are left to wonder what happened to the officer, but do get to watch Willi's crazy next few days as he impersonates a German officer and assumes command of his situation.

Circumstances result in "Captain" Herold gaining followers, each of whom are as lost or unwilling to continue fighting as himself. The ragtag group ends up at prison camp Aschendorfermoor ... a camp containing German deserters and looters. Herold has convinced those in charge that he has direct orders from Hitler to take command of the camp, and a horrific massacre of prisoners takes place over the next few days.

While this is a stunning story ripped from historical documents, the film works even better as a psychological character study. Herold first employs his newfound power as a survival strategy, but he is soon corrupted by the power of his assumed position. We witness as some blindly follow orders, and we watch (dumbfounded) as Herold's thirst for power overtakes whatever integrity he might have had prior to the desperation injected by war.

The film moves at a meticulous pace and at times feels redundant. It could have been a stellar short film, but director Schwentke uses the slow pace to allow our shock to grow as Herold evolves into a coy monster (with a fine performance from Mr. Hubacher). Filmed in stark black and white, it offers some beautiful shots from cinematographer Florian Ballhaus (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA), the son of famed cinematographer and 3 time Oscar nominee Michael Ballhaus (GANGS OF NEW YORK). The elder Ballhaus passed away in 2017, and the son continues to build his own legacy. Set in Germany during April 1945, this blend of docudrama and black comedy is a collaboration of German, Poland and France, and as a true story, packs quite a punch.
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9/10
Realistic view of war
robbemannaert4 April 2018
You can compare this WWO2 movie with the style of Dunkirk. That means that the movie is not for everyone, but if you can appreciate this kind of movies, it's magnificent. The movie doesn't want to be a hollywood blazing brainless action movie, but wants to portrait the germans on an individual level. Like @barta-46978 says, the movie is about authority and gives yourself an insight in what it must have been at the time, and even how you would react in the given circumstances. The movie is explicit and kind of shocking. It really intrigued me, we need more movies like this.
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10/10
Stunning war movie
jeffreymnapier24 March 2019
An interesting piece of cinema filmed in B&W about a private who takes on the role of a captain. I enjoyed the way his role played out and thought he was a great choice to play the part of the captain. I won't say much about the plot, but as a war movie fan, this rates in the top ten for me.
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8/10
Good, but I wanted more
angeladenis13 December 2018
I think if the film had started before he deserted the dynamics would have played out better. He deserted for a reason- why? The film didn't demonstrate any kind of transition. However, the cinematography, Max's performance, and the gritty hell of war was realistic and superbly done. Black and white movies normally irritate me, but in this case it made the film unflinchingly raw.
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5/10
Very inconsistent
BestBenedikt19 October 2018
Considering Robert Schwentke's previous movies, I don't think he was the right director for this film. I didn't particularly like his past work, and DER HAUPTMANN makes no difference. It is obviously a story worth being told, since the script is based on true events and Willi Herold did in fact exist and commit all those crimes depicted here, but the movie is extremely inconsistent and doesn't know what it wants to be.

The first scene right away felt very odd, with the "Feldgendarmerie" (basically military police) chasing Herold, simultaneously shooting, shouting and playing a trumpet. The depiction of events continues like that, in some scenes deadly serious and in others very grotesque and satirical, and it doesn't match well. Schwentke should have just sticked to one tone and went with it. Especially in the last act, when the main event is already over, the story goes completely nuts, with the main characters partying and apparently forgetting the war surrounding them.

You also never get an authentic feeling of World War II being in its last phase. I can't even specify what exactly I felt offputting, but the film just doesn't convey an authentic atmosphere. Especially the first part of the movie felt quite cheap and "acted".

This leads me to my biggest problem, which was the depiction of Herold's character, whose motivation remained very unclear and whose decisions just didn't make a whole lot of sense. I know that the core story here actually happened, but the portrayal of the main character's actions in the film just isn't consequent. At first he obviously just wants to escape death when dressing up as a captain, then he suddenly turns into a complete psychopath within a day or so. At least that's what his horrific actions are depicted as: the actions of a psychopath, who suddenly has full command. But Max Hubacher's acting just doesn't convey that. I don't know if the problem lies in the script or in his acting to be honest, probably a little of both.

To sum it up, this film was a mess tonally as well as story-wise. I know what Schwentke was trying to do, showing the problematic nature of power relations and the exploitation of those. But the result just felt weird and, most importantly for a story like that, it just didn't feel authentic and hence doesn't do the real victims of Herold justice.
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10/10
One of the best movies i have seen
reliczoran9 December 2018
At first i thought oh another ww2 movie from the perspective of one individual that will show the last year of the german nazi regime. But then as the movie started i got into captains head. It was like a clear presentation of an very inteligent pragmatic that at firat tried to survive as an deserter, but got into a role of someone else. His determination, inteligence, leadership, authority and discipline in playing his new role impacted on every other character through out the film. After a while i was shocked that this movie was based on real events. From survival to horror, despair and even theater and hedonism. Back and forth. Trully a remarkable movie.
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the fear
Kirpianuscus27 December 2018
To me, it reminds Medieval stories about an accident changing everything. The man, the world as the best self definition. A film about fear. Its roots, its fruits, the absolute power covering all and the fragility of illegim position as source of cruel gestures and long chain of improvisations. The best point of film - the superb performance of Milan Peschel as Freytag. The simplicity of profound good man front to the high cruelty, knowing the truth, preserving respect, in the shell of a deep shock behind the gestures of young Herold. All is reflected by the great art of Peschel. The war becomes only pretext for the instincts of a falling world. The beautiful cinematography, the memories about similarities with films by Fellini or B>ergman, the veil of ash around each scene, the last words on screen about a private and his illusion of power , the predictable end of a story who is more real than reality .
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7/10
Nice movie...
Thanos_Karagioras3 January 2019
"The Captain" is a History - War movie in which we are two weeks before the end of World War II and we watch a young German soldier trying to survive when he finds a Nazi captain's uniform. He pretends to be a captain and his behavior changes very much making the same monstrous mistakes that his perpetrators did before him and he was trying to escape from.

I liked this movie very much because it had a very interesting plot and many good scenes. I liked the direction which was made by Robert Schwentke who is also the writer and I believe he did a great job on it. He combined very some historical events with his story and also showed us the cruelty of Nazi and what they did or what they were capable of doing. Another thing that I believe it's very important is the evolve of his main character, he started as a young frightened boy and in the end, he had courage, pride, and honor. It reminded me of the movie "Das Experiment" which was also presented very well what can happen if power is given to the wrong people. Regarding the interpretations, I liked the interpretation of Max Hubacher who played as Willi Herold and he was very good at his role, Frederick Lau who played as Kipinski and Milan Peschel who played as Freytag.

In conclusion, I have to say that "The Captain" is a nice movie with an interesting plot, some very good interpretations, and a very good direction. I recommend everyone to watch this movie because I am sure that you are going to enjoy it and I also believe that if you are a fan of war movies then you really have to watch this movie since it presents the true face of war.
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9/10
Solid film
notetoself066-202-41862212 January 2019
All around this film holds up. The (true) story is interesting, it's well told, the characters are compelling, and the cinematography is fantastic. It's gruesome and can be difficult to watch but well worth it. It feel authentic with moments of dark humor thrown in from time to time. This film makes you think while packing a punch.
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8/10
Timely for Germany, alas
Bachfeuer24 August 2018
My compliments to sfviewer123 for picking up on the Captain from Köpenick lineage. Phony nostalgia for the 3rd Reich is one of the strands of present-day populist agitation in Germany. What a fine antidote for that this film is!
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7/10
Missed the mark for me
TheTopDawgCritic5 March 2019
I get the B&W but what was with the single color shot? Good biopic but the 2 hour length felt much longer with the slow pace and long shots. This film should've been edited down to 90 mins max. Otherwise, the directing and cinematography were great, and the acting on point. Not a bad foreign film, but I think it could have been better. It's a 7/10 from me
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8/10
raw,raw,raw.....
ops-5253510 January 2019
What i most of all liked in this historical war drama,was the brilliantly used black and white production, this really touched several strings of feelings when watching this film, like schindlers list, very well done by the director,and production team, particularly the light crew,that seems like having great experience on b/w productions.

its a raw film, and the two main themes are authority and desertations, soldiers returning alone or in small groups from the front,are picked up and merely shuffled into soldier prison camp, awaiting the military tribunal to decide wether or not they are kujons . its the bitter flavour of war,being british,american,german,russian or japanese, they all punished the war tired young men and woman, momentarily with quick executions,or with imprisonment.

the acting are very good,the characters are put on the edge, i especially liked ''herr freitag'' who expresses his fears and disbelief with high standard. in the beginning i started to wonder if this was some kind of comedy flick,but i soon found out what a harsh hell of a life described in the film. the story is said to be a true story, and that makes it even worse to imagine. what i miss in the plot is where and when things happens,that wouldve brought the message of the story even further ahead. i loved the use of original language with english subtitles.( i wish norwegian filmmakers had done the same,like in netflix's u-22 of july, where norwegian actors stumbles away with 6th grade school english.)

but its a good film, believe me, it is not for everyone though,and if youre fainthearted,or have a vivid ability to glue vision to your memory,then do make a ''halt'' when its discomforting you,because its not getting better.i watched with 3 long breaks ,just to devour.
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9/10
psychological movies too
the_last_hope9013 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Besides the beauty that history and human mind the movies shocks us with a terrific storyline. Until the end you wait to see what happens. I would introduce this movie to the psychological movies too, as the character develops along the way and we discover he is a very complex one. All the other characters are interesting and beautifully shaped. I think there are 2 slow motions in the film but the first one, it's the best one, describing everything that's happening there is 1 shot, like a moment of reflection. I would recommend the movie as you don't feel the 2 hours passing, you have something to learn from it, you remain with something from it and for you're you will not be bored. It has a bit of everyting, comedy, drama, etc. I personally avoid war movies but this one I enjoyed.
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9/10
It's about "The Executioner of Emsland", not "The Captain of Köpenick"
ckembar197214 September 2018
The movie is based on the story of Willi Herold, not Wilhelm Voigt.
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7/10
The hunted becoming the hunter.
deloudelouvain7 February 2019
The most interesting and crazy part of Der Hauptmann is that it is based on a true story. Crazy as you can witness how quickly the hunted can be come the hunter. You could say he only tried to survive but the truth is that Willi Herold quickly became the person he was fleeing from and that he took some sadistic pleasure in it. Max Hubacher did a great job playing Willi Herold. Black and white movies are normally not really my thing but in this case it perfectly worked. Only one color shot was made towards the end. There are some disturbing scenes in The Captain but then again it's a war movie about Nazis so no surprise there. All the actors did a great job playing their characters, from victims to butchers. There are some satirical moments that did work in this context. An interesting but most of the time cruel story well shot.
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5/10
Tries to be deep but lacks seriousness
highnemonkey4 April 2018
Halfway through I was thinking about leaving the cinema, which I never do. The sheer brutality of the images is unbearable at times and I consider it reassuring to my mental condition that it is. But what was more unsettling is this feeling that the movie chose this serious setting simply to get away with disgusting violence. Of course this is not a new discussion, Inglorious Basterds, which I loved, comes to mind. But while IB did not pretend to be serious, this one seemingly does. It takes the absurdly-cruel parts of other great films (think of the jammed executioners gun in Schindlers List and others) and throws them together, making you think of these great movie-moments and forgiving that this one actually is not very good. The first act was great, threw us into the story right away, it catches the viewer. But then? It pretends to be a study on the brutality of men but is it? What we see are not men. These are monsters. Everything that would link their behaviour to that of normal people is gone. No backstory, no motivations explained. Anything that would make the viewer go "shit, that could be me!" is taken out in favour of evil monsters from planet Nazi in a galaxy far far away raging around. This depiction of fascism as a mere costume of evil has always bugged me. And while Inglorious Basterds or even the Indiana Jones movies with their Nazis do not try to be serious I could enjoy the stereotypical bad guys portrait in them. This movie on the other hand pretends it has something important to tell about human psyche. But it does not, there is better ones that actually tell you WHY people get brutal and don't just show images that make you go: "Wow. That was cruel". The images are moving but only in a way that "Saw" or "Hostel" are moving. If you make a movie set in Nazi-Germany be aware of the seriousness of the topic and dont let viewers get away with the sheer impression that the Nazis were unmotivated, alien monsters with just an inherent evilness.

Surprisingly the credits rocked me. They made me perplexed, they made me laugh, they gave me a real feeling of absurdity but as they continued, they made me scared, they left me thinking. Everything I was lacking before - it was in the credits.
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5/10
Could have been much better!
House-of_cards27 September 2018
The film had all the makings of a story that is not the standard WW2 style, It started with tension, fear and expectation but sadly descended in to a comedic series of events. Some of the events at the camp were gritty but the descended into farce and the latter part of the staff car driving around with his crew of criminals was rather silly. What this could have have. Disappointing.
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9/10
Masterpiece of self-irony and madness of war.
pettil22 January 2019
A fresh story about what war can make to a man. And the possibilities of it. Comedy and action mix together with clever way. Brilliant work.
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7/10
In War Power & Evil Walk Hand In Hand Feeding Both
AudioFileZ13 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The Captain is a stark look into the human elements of self-preservation, power, and greed as it morphed a German Wehrmacht private into a monster. The use of a private is of course to say you are at the bottom of an organization sworn to to serve his country. The fact he is a deserter makes him even lower than the common criminal as he is betraying his oath to put his fellow man and country first. He, is hunted for immediate execution. Narrowly escaping he is still in an extremely dire situation. In this darkness a serrendipitous situation arises he feels may be a way out. Finding a captains deserted car with the captain's suitcase provides the captain's uniform. For survival he decides he must become the captain who must be deceased. What follows is a kind of keeping one's wits in perpetuating a huge bluff. Facing constant danger the private turned captain morphs into a kind of monster himself. As his moral compass sinks lower he becomes all of the evil he was surely sick of when he chose desertion. The deeper into his ruse the more murderous he becomes until you wonder if he ever had a conscience at all. He seems to bring out the worst in others as he quite by chance seems to sideline those who would reveal him. When he finally is caught in his evil morass it seems the jig is up and he will be held accountable...or will he as the lack of bonafide morals once more arises.

The Captain is expert in slow character revealing in the chaos and immoral waging of war. It takes a powerless character from sympathy to a evil peak where he lords over life and death only for his own ego and survival. The questions are many such as if life depends on the death of innocents is that something a very average man would choose? In all wars we know this is called acceptable collateral damage to which, perhaps, this film may give one pause.

I think the black and white cinematography fits this story so well it's like an enveloping huge disaster looming itself. Much like a train wreck you watch while not turning away we see the evil of a man develop. It's fascinating and horrible at the same time. I think this film is well worth the watch. As the ending credits begin we get the film's only comedic relief in which we see the players in character and in the period Nazi wagon drive through modern Berlin interacting with confused locals. As absurd as this is what plays out in the previous hour and a half is of a higher level with deranged evil.
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8/10
Surprisingly good and different than other WWII movies
thiettan10 April 2019
This title is not like any other typical WWII film. There are no epic battles to witness and no glory for the viewer to hope for. Instead, the film takes a dark humanistic approach to explore the dynamics of power and authority. The quote "Power attracts the worst and worst, it corrupts the best" comes to mind when watching events unfold through many dialogue intensive scenes of the film. Others may see the movie dragging because of all the dialogue but for me, it's a chance to explore in depth the characters and their realistic reaction/behavior in the story. Although certain points of the plot can seem over dramatize which reminds me that the notion of this being based on a true story should be taken with a grain of salt. But overall, it feels authentic for the most part and it's refreshing.
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7/10
When the weak takes advantage
bnessi12 March 2019
Acting: no names but well perfomed 8/10 Screenplay: evolves in good pace, enjoyable7/10 Story: quiet the unreal situation of power maniac soldier who finally gets all his deception and anger out of poor and helpless, most likely the typical type of person who got bullied for awhile. Sad and cold by all meaning but gripping story 7/10 Overall an interesting interpretation that makes you think about the opportunists.
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10/10
Its a good movie night
ms_cold16 October 2018
Where i can start..... the movie give you the fillings of war and how its bad and ugle ..... fantastic. ... thriller. ... action
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8/10
Of the Beast in Man
Tweetienator8 February 2019
A friend recommended this one to me and I was not disappointed - Der Hauptmann (The Captain) is a fine little movie about the last days of the 3rd Reich in Germany. Shot in black and white it tells us a true story - about a deserter, who finds a captain's uniform, takes on the role and the commanding power of a captain - and commits some terrible war crimes.

The movie captures good the final mad days in war destroyed Germany, and we watch some very disturbing, grotesque and thought provoking scenes of mass hysteria and psychosis. Der Hauptmann got not the biggest production, but for sure more interesting and "entertaining" as to watch some "schrott" like the last Oscar-burdened Dunkirk.

A German contribution to the WWII genre with some real quality like Untergang/Downfall (2004), with a far smaller budget/production of course.
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