Labyrinth of Lies Blu-ray Review

Actors: Lukas Miko, Johannes Krisch, Johann Von Bulow, Robert Hunger-Bühler, Hansi Jochmann
  • Director: Giulio Ricciarelli
  • Producers: Sabine Lamby, Uli Putz, Jakob Claussen
  • Format: AC-3, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: February 16, 2016
  • Digital Copy Expiration Date: December 31, 2019
  • Run Time: 123 minutes


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             It seems that every award season there will be at least a few films having to do with the Holocaust, from both Hollywood and various entries into Best Foreign Language Film category. This year it seems to be the Hungarian drama Son of Saul which is receiving the most attention, though Germany’s submission in the category has similar interests. Labyrinth of Lies makes a convincing argument for the widespread ignorance about the wartime atrocities by the German public, or at least an unwillingness to remember by those who were aware. Though it may have been more effective with more courtroom suspense than personal anguish from the protagonist, Labyrinth of Lies provides a respectful record of events for Germany fifteen years after World War II.

     


            In 1958, there were many young Germans who had never even heard of Auschwitz, among them a young prosecutor named Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling). This is a primary reason for his appointment by Frankfurt’s attorney general, Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss) to a case against a schoolteacher identified as a former guard of the notorious concentration camp. Once Radmann begins to investigate, he discovers the schoolteacher is just the tip of the iceberg. These discoveries would eventually lead to the 1963 “Auschwitz trial,” but Labyrinth of Lies remains focused on the years and working leading up to it. This is much more of a film about the emotional journey Radmann must take in accepting the unpleasant effects of uncovering an ugly truth.

     

            Wisely, Guilio Ricciarelli refrains from showing any flashbacks of actual Auschwitz atrocities, instead allowing the stories and strong performances to carry the images into the mind of the viewer. This is where the impact of the film’s core remains, but thankfully we are given reprieve with lighter sub-plots. It also doesn’t hurt that Germany in the late 1950s was a lot like America during the same era; idealistically presented as a contrast to the secrets hiding underneath the polished surface. Some might argue that this lightens a subject which should have no reprieve, or that Labyrinth of Lies resembles the contrivances of a Hollywood message movie, but it is just a different approach to a familiar subject matter. If you don’t care for this representation, there are sure to be a whole new batch of Holocaust films by next year.

     

            The Blu-ray release includes a commentary track with director Giulio Ricciarelli and actor Alexander Fehling, along with their Q&A session from the LA Jewish Film Festival. Also includes in the extras are a handful of deleted scenes.

     

    Entertainment Value: 7/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance:  7/10

    Special Features: 6.5/10





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