Of the many films on the nature of Nazism, very few scrutinise its manifestation in the daily lives of ordinary people. Adapted from Rolf Hochhuth's novel, this may be framed as a particular historical enquiry into the events surrounding an illicit love affair between a small-town shopkeeper (Schygulla) and a Polish PoW (Lysak), but their predicament is so movingly embodied that it lifts the film out of semi-autobiographical dredging and into the realm of tragedy. Their love is destroyed by the local petit bourgeoisie, so infected with political disease that the village is rotten with gossip, greed, suspicion. Alongside Schygulla's aching gravity, Mueller-Stahl weighs in a tremendous performance as the perplexed and irritable Gestapo chief. CPea.
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