Real-life "Saviors" inspire riveting WWII drama

By : Ray Bennett
Date posted :2009-08-22 01:44:00

LOCARNO, Switzerland (Hollywood Reporter) - German cinema's growing number of films willing to address topics relating to World War II has a fine addition in Ludi Boeken's "Under Bauern" (Saviors in the Night), which tells of farmers -- unter bauern -- in Westphalia who sheltered Jewish friends from the Nazis.

The appearance at the end of the picture of characters whose real-life stories are related to the subject adds depth to a production filled with emotional power and a constant sense of dread. The film, which screened at the Locarno International Film Festival, will find an international welcome from audiences who wish to add to their knowledge of the period and appreciate a riveting human drama well told.

Working from a smart screenplay by Otto Jagersberg, Imo Moskowicz and Heidrum Schleef (based on a memoir by Marga Spiegel) director Boeken spurns melodrama in favor of understatement and a clear depiction of events while sustaining an extraordinary degree of tension throughout.

The film begins in 1943 with the Nazis deporting the last German Jews to death camps. Genial horse trader Menne Spiegel (Armin Rohde) won an Iron Cross fighting for Germany in World War I, but now his country's rulers want to kill him and his family.

Desperate, he turns to neighboring farmer Heinrich Aschoff (Martin Horn) and his wife, Maria (Margarita Broich), who immediately offers to hide Menne's wife, Marga (Veronica Ferres), and their young daughter.

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