13 Minutes (Elser – Er hätte die Welt verändert) (2015)

With the huge genre of World War II films about suffering and resistance of regular folks under the Nazi regime, you’d think that all true stories would be exhausted. Now, from the folks that brought us the Oscar-winning Hitler film Downfall, we learn about one more hero. We all know about the Valkyrie attempt on Hitler’s life, but less known is the story of Georg Elser, a German whose attempt to blow up Hitler at a rally, missed only by 13 minutes.
Our Rating

Genre(s): Drama

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Actors: Christian Friedel, Katharina Schüttler, Burghart Klaußner, Johann von Bülow

Year: 2015

MPAA Rating: R

Country: Germany

Georg Elser (Christian Friedel), a small town carpenter and musician, spends his time being a ladies’ man and flirting with married women at the beer hall where he plays accordion in the evenings. Local unionists and communists keep the gatherings lively, but when the Nazis come to town, things get tense. Not particularly a religious man, nor political, Georg knows that it still isn’t right to see his neighbors and friends hauled off by the new guys in town. Without confessing his intentions to his lover Elsa (Katharina Schüttler), Georg starts launching an elaborate plan.

As 13 Minutes is told in flashback as the Nazis interrogate and torture Georg, we know that he tinkered around in his workshop and played with timed releases and explosives to create a device that was time to explode days later when Hitler made his monthly rally speech in a hall in Munich. Little did he know that the Fuehrer would leave the hall 13 minutes early that night. Several people would die, but the assassination attempt was a failure.

It is a fascinating story that even the Nazis don’t believe. He HAD to be working with someone else. The Brits? The communists? It is inspiring to see a story of one person trying (and getting SO close to succeeding) to make a difference in troubling times.

As for the movie itself though, his backstory seems a bit padded and cinematic to perhaps add story where his true past is not known. It ends up being a workhorse of a film, one of those pieces of European cinema that is totally watchable but almost instantly forgettable. Georg’s story, however, is not forgettable, and at the end of the film you’ll be Googling his name to find out more.


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