Friday, July 03, 2009

Before The Fall (Napola)

As Hitler launches the first major military aggressions of World War II, the strongest and smartest German young men enter exclusive schools known as "Napolas" to train as future leaders of the Third Reich. In 1942, a recruiter from one such Napola sets his sights on Friedrich, a talented adolescent boxer, who sees the training and prestige offered by the Napola as his ticket out of an impoverished family unit run by his anti-Nazi father.

In the Napola, Friedrich learns to fight without pity, becoming a formidable killing machine. Propagandistic classes reinforce a hardened worldview of his Aryan superiority.

Meanwhile, Friedrich forms a bond with fellow cadet Albrecht Stein, an aspiring writer and son of the local Nazi governor. Governor Stein dotes on Friedrich, barely masking his contempt for his own son's sensitivity. But Friedrich admires and empathizes with his friend, even though Albrecht criticizes Friedrich's brutality in the ring.

As the war escalates, the school's military training also intensifies. Unscrupulous trainers humiliate the more vulnerable cadets in front of their peers and send the others out on dubious war game exercises. In one such nightmarish event, they instruct Friedrich and Albrecht to shoot escaping POW's who turn out to be unarmed Russian civilians. Tormented with guilt, Albrecht rebels, and Friedrich must choose between his sworn allegiance to the Fuehrer and his best friend's moral imperative.


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