Labyrinth of Lies Blu-ray Review
When your past is known throughout the world it’s often hard to run from it. It’s been reported that, for many years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys requested that, in media reports, the team only be referred to as the Cowboys, not wanting any mention of the city. This was also true in Germany after World War II. The German people tried to go along after the war as if the Nazi Party never existed. This is the main idea behind the film LABYRINTH OF LIES.
It’s 1958 in Frankfurt, Germany. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and a teacher asks a friend for a light. The friend proceeds to pull out a lighter that so shocks the teacher he drops his package and immediately heads for the local police station to make a report. A report that would take years to be completed.
Based on true events, LABRYINTH OF LIES follows young prosecuting attorney Johann Rodmann (Fehling), who is beginning his judicial career handling traffic court. So studious and by the book, he refuses to follow the judge’s request during his first trial to lower a traffic fine for a beautiful young lady. Calling her claim of poverty no excuse he stands firm on the amount. However things work out when he actually lends the woman the money needed to pay.
Rodmann’s career takes a turn when he is made aware of the teacher’s report. The lighter that had so frightened him bore the insignia of the SS and, by German law, no officer of the Nazi Party is permitted to have a teacher’s license. Rodmann shows interest in the case but soon learns that his superiors want it swept under the rug. In researching the case, Rodmann is appalled to find out that people close to him were also members of the Nazi Party. In fact, things are so slack that it is rumored that Dr. Josef Mengele, the most-wanted member of Hitler’s inner circle, often comes back to town to visit friends. How can this be?
This is a powerful film with an equally powerful message. Can we run from the past? The film sits on the performance of Fehling, whose youthful good looks and attitude make it easy to buy his naiveté. Only a young boy when the war ended, Rodmann cannot recollect, or fathom, a time when things were bad. Only through his research does he learn of the concentration camp at Auschwitz. When he questions co-workers and friends of a similar age they have no idea of the camp or even a recollection of the name. The more he digs the more he learns, both about his country and his past.
This is not a preachy film. It is a film that lets you learn the facts as Rodmann does. The filmmakers do not assume that you, the viewer, are as informed as Rodmann’s friends. As the story plays out you realize that, even if the story is best untold for some, its need to come out is for the greater good. If you like a well-made historical drama, LABYRINTH OF LIES is a choice I highly recommend.
Video: Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the film image is striking. The bright colors of the German countryside jump off the screen.
Audio: The soundtrack is delivered in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1. The film is in German and features various subtitles, including English and French.
Audio Commentary – A very informative commentary featuring writer/director Giullio Ricciarelli and star Alexander Fehler. Again, in German with subtitles.
Deleted Scenes (5:45) – Seven short scenes, none of which were missed.
LA Jewish Film Festival Q&A (43:01) – A lively session with Ricciarelli and Fehling after a special festival screening.