EIFF 2015 – Review: 13 Minutes

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC EIFF 2015 - Review: 13 Minutes

What difference does 13 minutes make?

A whole world of difference! Had he of succeeded on 8 November 1939 Georg Esler would have been hailed a hero, the name, Hitler, consigned to the history books and millions of lives saved BUT he didn’t succeed. Oliver Hirschbiegel brings us the powerfully taut, historically accurate and tense thriller: 13 minutes that sets off an emotional explosion in our hearts and minds.

Georg Elser was the individual who set out to stop Hitler on 8 November 1939 by planting a homemade bomb above the lectern where Hitler was giving a speech and he would have been successful but for the fact that Hitler left 13 minutes before the bomb exploded.

Oliver Hirschbiegel does what he did with Downfall in that the viewer learns about the man. I am going to state now that all biopics about the second world war should be made by Hirschbiegel. In the Q&A after the film he said he actually didn’t immediately want to make this film however he was drawn to it. What is remarkable is how a non political and free spirited individual such as Elser managed to pull of such an audacious attempt. In watching the film you cannot help but think of parallels with today and indeed Hirschbiegel said he thought Edward Snowden was acting much like Elser did, standing up because someone had to.

The torture scenes in the film are particularly harrowing but it should be noted as Oliver Hirschbiegel stated in the Q&A that nearly all the narrative is actually based on the transcripts the Nazis kept of the interrogations.

What is remarkable is that Elser is not hailed as a hero of the Second World War for what was essentially a selfless sacrifice. This is not a formulaic biopic but one where you feel as you have met Georg, sat and had a drink with him and listened to his views. The reason you feel as if you know Georg Esler is down to what must be an award winning performance by Christian Friedel. It is refreshing, heart breaking but, surprisingly, uplifting to know that individuals like Georg Elser existed and hopefully still exist.

13 Minutes (German with English Subtitles) was shown as part of the Directors’ Showcase at the Edinburgh Film Festival.

It will be on general release in cinemas across the UK from 17 July.

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