Thursday, May 31, 2007

Review: Sophie Scholl (The final days)

Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst
Photo from wikipedia

"Sophie Scholl – the final days” is a movie about a German girl who was a valiant student activist against the Nazi Germany. This movie is unlike Schindler’s list in that there isn’t any atrocity portrayed on the screen. The extravagant bright red Nazi flag looming in the background depicts the blood bathed Nazi regime effortlessly. Even though the movie title has the words ‘the final days’ I was gripped by fear for Sophie’s safety while I witnessed Sophie’s defiance to the Gestapo. How did she find the courage to stand for her convictions in the most treacherous of times?

When I am confronted with movie depiction of idealistic revolutionaries such as Sophie, I always suspect that there may be biased glorification of the heroic character. Thoughts like how could anyone know what Sophie said to the Nazi interrogators? ...and such. It turns out that the movie script is based on sources such as original interrogation records, video footage of “people’s court” proceedings by the judge Roland Freisler and interview with the surviving members of the White Rose and Scholl family. So when you hear Sophie talk in the movie, those are her words and not the screenwriter’s twist of imagination. The knowledge that this movie is closely if not exactly based on a true story makes it overbearing to watch at times.

The events depicted in the movie happened about 50 years ago but the debates that transpire between Sophie and the Gestapo are (strikingly) reminiscent of current state of affairs. According to the Gestapo, speaking out against Hitler’s war was commensurate with not supporting the troops and deemed unpatriotic. Ring any bells?

The only complaint I have about this movie is that it sort of pitches the idea of religious righteousness (in form of Sophie) against immoral atheism (synonymous to Hitler’s regime). Sophie was a God fearing protestant but from her words it is clear that her fight was for freedom of thought and speech and not out of religious fervor. At the young age of 21 it was understandable if Sophie turned to God for strength and hope. So the movie made me cringe in the aspect that this movie (intentionally or not) fuels the idea that atheism leads to immorality.

Over all I loved the movie for its simplicity and realistic depiction of a heroic woman.


Ranjeeth Koyilerian said...

"Atheism leads to immorality" - this seems to be a simple line, but the reality behind that definitely convinces me. Perhaps, most of us are not atheists for they are forcing themselves to be morally impeccable.


Crystal blur said...

Are you saying that the only reason that holds back a person from doing an immoral deed is the belief that there is a celestial watch dog out there? Can you elaborate on the reality behind that convinces you?

cheti said...

interesting movie pointer Crys ! Will look up sometime ! Tying morality and religiousness seems illogical ! For - that is to say that - ppl are religious and moral only out of fear - which is not very complimentary at all ! That - at a deeper - seem to imply that morality (even there is no single morality code) is not self sustaining - which is very disturbing ! Hence I dont agree to that ! Moral ppl will be moral - even if they are threatened that they will be roasted alive (?) in hell for not doing something that they dont beleive in !

dodo said...

The only reason that stops religious people from doing immoral things is the selfish desire of gaining favors from the Superman. It could be for cabarets by heavenly vamps, fun with 72 virgins, or some other heavenly kink. But these mostly apply to the 'manly' religious men--religious women are just plain stupid. Religion has done absolutely no good other than acting as a medium to control the sheeple.

People who believe in invisibel peeping-toms in the skies suffer from SDOGM(Severe Deficiency Of Grey Matter).

Yes, it's been a while since I ranted against religion :).

And Hitler wasn't remotely atheistic. He was a hardcore racist Christian.

What's up, CB? When does you next hibernation begin :P?

TP said...

Being morally right (not hurting others unless they hurt you) is i think one of the pillars of civilized society. It is definitely an efficient way to co-exist(in theory ofcourse)

Although, any such funda of right or wrong is but another funda and isnt really useful unless it gets embedded in your psyche, to the point that you start believing that the funda is you. Point I am making is, one can always claim morality because of something inherent in them which doesnt let them hurt others/see others in pain and it not being a theoretical funda really. How far is that true? I cannot possibly comment.

Incidentally, there are some species of bird, I forget which, that functions very similar to human society, as in the individual works to ensure that the whole group is safe keeping its own life at risk. Evolution and theory of survival, anyone?

Shag said...

hehe nice review there cb,
I agree religion doesn't have anything to do with ethics. most of them (atleast all the ones I know of) are tainted with blood . . .
However it is an effective way to motivate ppl of a country to do crazy things like kill themselves for their country (Sheep Theory). It has been often used as a tool by western governments against most of their bigger enemies the Nazis and supposedly "Godless" Commies etc.

Crystal blur said...

I will believe you (about renting this movie) once you rent out Totoro :p About religion and morality, that is exactly my point...religious texts may have templates for moral codes but that does not mean that only religious people stick to the moral codes.

Woah Dodo! You went to town with that one with SDOGM and what not! Haha. You are right about Hitler not being atheist and I have a suspicion that he was using religion as a tool to meet his ends (Jesus against Jews).

Hibernation? You have been MIA forever and you ask me about hibernation?! :p

There are plenty of examples in nature supporting both camps (selfish behavior as well as selfless behavior). My favorite example of selfish behavior is from one of Dawkins's book...penguins often push other penguins into water before venturing out themselves so that if there are any predators lurking, the ones that don't enter the water first will be safe.
So my take on non-religious sticking to moral code is that it is simply advantageous for the sake of a general agreement that murder is a serious offense and should have severe consequences, allows everybody to have a fair chance of survival by decreasing the predatory activity.

It isn't surprising that faith is used to manipulate people because by definition faith does not allow for questioning or reason.