The Captain

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Germany | 2017 | 118 minutes | Robert Schwentke

As Germany convulses in the Third Reich's death throes, a young Wehrmacht deserter steals a captain's uniform to avoid execution. The uniform transforms Private Willi Herold into "Hauptmann Herold," who readily embraces the brutality of the Nazi war machine.

"Breathtaking black-and-white cinematography enlivens and ennobles this unbelievably brutal, disturbingly brilliant psychological study of the corrupting influence of power." Sean Nelson - The Stranger

The closing weeks of World War II may be remembered today as a long-awaited relief, but for the average German soldier, the nightmare was just beginning. Writer/director Robert Schwentke's The Captain depicts these terrible final days in April 1945 through the eyes of Private Willi Herold (Max Hubacher), an insignificant grunt in the crumbling Wehrmacht, first seen running for his life as German officers give chase, assuming he's a deserter. After barely escaping, Herold discovers an abandoned officer's car with a captain's uniform boxed up neatly in the backseat. Amazingly, the clothes fit, so the desperate private transforms himself into "Hauptmann Herold." In the chaos of the retreat, no one dares to ask for proof of identity, so Herold claims he is on a "secret mission" ordered by the Fuhrer himself. While living in constant fear that he could be exposed as an imposter, Herold gradually takes on the hauteur of a true officer, berating subordinates and eventually executing deserters—any of whom could have been himself just days earlier. Based on true events and shot in luminous, widescreen black-and-white format, The Captain may be the most harrowing portrayal of the aftermath of Nazi atrocities seen in a German-language film—one that explores the depths to which humanity can plummet when ordinary people are given the authority of a uniform.

Director Biography

German director Robert Schwentke has become more well known in the United States than his native country by working with some of the most awarded American actors. Though films like Flightplan (2005) and The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) have escalated him to celebrity status in the industry, Schwentke greatly prefers relaxation and alone time to an animated Hollywood lifestyle.

Sponsored by Seattle Met, AM880 KIXI

  • Original Language Title: Der Hauptmann
  • Director: Robert Schwentke
  • Principal Cast: Max Hubacher, Milan Peschel, Frederick Lau, Bernd Holscher, Waldemar Kobus, Alexander Fehling, Britta Hammelstein, Sascha Alexander, Samuel Finzi
  • Premiere Status: US
  • Country: Germany, Poland, Portugal, France
  • Year: 2017
  • Running Time: 118 minutes
  • Producer: Frieder Schlaich, Irene von Alberti
  • Screenplay: Robert Schwentke
  • Cinematographers: Florian Ballhaus
  • Editors: Michal Czarnecki
  • Music: Martin Todsharow
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: San Sebastian International Film Festival 2017 (Jury Prize for Best Cinematography)
  • Filmography: Allegiant (2016); Insurgent (2015); R.I.P.D. (2013); RED (2010); The Time Traveler's Wife (2009); Flightplan (2005); The Family Jewels (2003); Tattoo (2002); Heaven! (1993)
  • Language: German
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • Format: DCP
  • US Distributor: Music Box Films
  • International Sales: Alfama Films