13 Minutes

13 Minutes Movie

This man could have changed history.

13 Minutes (German: Elser – Er hätte die Welt verändert) is a German drama film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel that portrays the failed Hitler assassin Georg Elser. It was screened out of competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. It was one of eight films shortlisted by Germany to be their submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, but it lost out to Labyrinth of Lies.

Review for 13 Minutes

The rousing film from Oliver Hirschbiegel, the director of Downfall, tells the story of one of recent German history’s almost forgotten figures. Georg Elser (Christian Friedel) was a carpenter who, in 1939, came within minutes of killing Adolf Hitler with a home-made bomb. The bomb went off after Hitler left a hall, killing several bystanders.

Hirschbiegel and his screenwriters have come up with an ingenious narrative structure. The bomb blast comes at the beginning of the film; then, Elser is interrogated and tortured, and we are whisked back to when and why he built his bomb as he recounts the tale under extreme duress.

13 Minutes Movie

The film plays like a rustic folk tale. Elser is portrayed by Friedel as a strong-willed, good-natured country carpenter, appalled by the Nazi intimidation that reaches into his corner of Swabian Germany. He is having an affair with a married woman (Katharina Schüttler), whose boorish husband’s behaviour encapsulates the vindictiveness of the National Socialists. Some of the torture scenes are very uncomfortable to watch, but Elser remains defiant in the face of extreme suffering.

Despite the cleverness of its plotting, this is an old-fashioned movie which has the feel of a Heimat-like mini-series. Elser’s story isn’t especially well known outside Germany but many set-pieces – the bombing, the village feasts, the grim sequences of Nazis humiliating townsfolk – seem familiar from newsreels and war movies. The film boasts handsome production values and is as intricately put together as the device Elser so painstakingly assembles.

13 Minutes Movie Poster

13 Minutes

Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring: Christian Friedel, Katharina Schüttler, Burghart Klaußner, Rüdiger Klink, Johann von Bülow, Simon Licht, Valentina Repetto, Anna Unterberger
Screenplay by: Fred Breinersdorfer, Léonie-Claire Breinersdorfer
Cinematography by: Judith Kaufmann
Film Editing by: Alexander Dittner
Costume Design by: Bettina Marx
Set Decoration by: Daniele Drobny
Music by: David Holmes
Studio: Lucky Bird Pictures
Release Date: July 17, 2015