Sophie Scholl–In Defiance of All Powers [subtitled]

Sophie Scholl--In Defiance of All Powers

This documentary clocks in at 59 minutes, meaning it barely falls into the category of a “short” as I’ve defined it.

Sophie Scholl—In Defiance of All Powers is the companion piece for Sophie Scholl—The Final Days that I wrote about recently.

For the most part I was not drawn in by this documentary. It struck me as a low budget, fairly amateurish effort. There’s some potentially interesting substance, but it’s not presented in a way that appealed to me.

The primary content is interviews with people connected to the White Rose group, of which Hans and Sophie Scholl were members. (Just like with Sophie Scholl—The Final Days, only Sophie Scholl is mentioned in the title, but really the film is about her brother almost as much as her, and to some extent about that whole group.) Obviously they are all quite elderly now. These interviewees include the Scholls’ sister, members of the White Rose who were not executed, the son of the primary Gestapo interrogator, the nephew of the detainee who befriended Sophie in jail, and others.

And indeed some of that is decent. But the film in general is rather rough going. The subtitles include a few typos, plus just some infelicitous wording that makes some of the points the people are making hard to follow in translation. The original film sans subtitles already includes numerous captions, and the subtitles at times either partially cover these up, or are on the screen at the same time where there is not enough time to read both. The available visuals apparently are quite limited; specifically there seem to be only a very small number of surviving photos of Sophie Scholl, and so those same photos get shown over and over. Several scenes from Sophie Scholl—The Final Days are used to illustrate what people are talking about in the interviews, but to me that unhelpfully blurs the distinction between documentary and dramatization. Also, I think I would have been confused if I hadn’t already seen that other movie on the same subject; I think this film could have done a better job providing an overview of the Scholls and the White Rose group, beyond what one can gradually glean from the interviews.

One can infer from this film that in broad terms Sophie Scholl—The Final Days is historically accurate, but it did not really help me understand if it is accurate in the areas I found it a little implausible, which was primarily its depiction of the Nazis as befuddled buffoons unable to cope with Sophie Scholl’s verbal dexterity and dignity.

My overall assessment is that the interviews in Sophie Scholl—In Defiance of All Powers are very valuable as a part of the historical record, perhaps as part of some university’s oral history collection, but that they aren’t presented well enough or supplemented well enough for me to be able to recommend this somewhat sloppy, amateurish, and too often dull film.

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