Concentration camp film premieres in Berlin

9th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

10 November 2004 , BERLIN - Volker Schloendorff's latest film, about a priest's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, premiered in Berlin this week with the Oscar-winning director saying he was wary about a new wave of Hitler movies. "The Ninth Day" examines the real-life story of Monsignor Jean Bernard, who spent nearly two years imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp and later became bishop of Luxembourg. The movie, which premiered at Berlin's CinemaxX theatre at Potsdamer Platz, comes in the wa

10 November 2004

BERLIN - Volker Schloendorff's latest film, about a priest's experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, premiered in Berlin this week with the Oscar-winning director saying he was wary about a new wave of Hitler movies.

"The Ninth Day" examines the real-life story of Monsignor Jean Bernard, who spent nearly two years imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp and later became bishop of Luxembourg.

The movie, which premiered at Berlin's CinemaxX theatre at Potsdamer Platz, comes in the wake of a number of TV documentaries on the Nazi era and a box-office hit on Adolf Hitler's final days in the bunker.

The Hitler film, "Der Untergang" (The Downfall), prompted Schloendorff to drop plans for a Hitler movie of his own while giving him qualms about the whole subject.

"I'm afraid that German audiences will become numb to this influx of films and TV productions about the war," he told an interviewer. "All of us filmmakers are worried that the audiences will become inured to the subject and will turn away in droves," he added.

"I myself was planning a film about the last 10 days leading up to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939 when I learned of plans for the film about Hitler's final 10 days in the bunker," he said. "So I dropped my project. I hope to revive the idea, though."

Turning to his film "The Ninth Day", Schloendorff said he was intrigued by the story of a Catholic priest's integrity in standing up to a Gestapo official who tried to intimidate him into bowing to Nazi ideology on church issues.

"It is the age-old question which is just as timely now as it ever was," Schloendorff said. "Am I prepared to give up a bit of my integrity in order to move things from within a rotten system? Do I sell my self-respect? It is a theme that runs through all of my films."

Some 3,000 clergymen from throughout Nazi-occupied Europe were imprisoned at Dachau.

"About 97 percent of them were Catholics, and half of those were Germans," Schloendorff said.

"By virtue of the fact that they were against the Nazis, they were also against the Vatican, which had signed the Concordat with Nazi Germany," outlining the role of the Church within the Nazi system, he noted.

He called Bernard an extraordinary man.

"Once in 1942 he was released from Dachau for a few days furlough," he said. "Anyone else would have gone into hiding. But Father Jean obediently returned at the end of the furlough rather than have other inmates suffer reprisals."

Schloendorff said his own Catholic upbringing was responsible for his becoming a filmmaker.

"I wouldn't have become a director were it not for the encouragement I got from Jesuit teachers when I was in school," he said.

Schloendorff, whose "The Tin Drum" won the Academy Award for best foreign-language film in 1980, said his next film will be about the Ninth Century Pope John VIII who according to legend turned out to be a woman - the legendary Pope Joan.

"How different do you suppose the Catholic Church might be if a woman was pope instead of a man?"

DPA

Subject: German news 

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