The Collapse of Europe (1914 - 1946)

Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) 

Christian Carion (France/Germany/United Kingdom 2004)
Language: French/English

In 1914, World War I, the bloodiest war ever at that time in human history, was well under way. However on Christmas Eve, numerous sections of the Western Front called an informal, and unauthorized, truce where the various front-line soldiers of the conflict peacefully met each other in No Man's Land to share a precious pause in the carnage with a fleeting brotherhood. This film dramatizes one such section as the French, British and German sides partake in the unique event, even though they are aware that their superiors will not tolerate its occurrence.


Poll (The Poll Diairies)

Chris Kraus (Germany/Estonia/Austria 2010)
Language: German, Russian, Estonian
Subtitles: English, German

In the summer of 1914, thirteen-year-old Oda von Siering (Paula Beer) leaves Berlin to join her family and an assortment of German and Russian aristocrats on an estate in Estonia. The von Siering family home is a character in its own right, a hulking, neoclassical manor that hovers on stilts above the sea. Oda arrives there bearing her mother's coffin and a gift requested by her surgeon father: a jarred, two-headed fetus to add to his laboratory of gruesome curiosities. Ebbo von Siering (Edgar Selge) sees himself in his daughter when she calmly and expertly learns to suture the corpse of a cat. What he fails to recognize - and what Oda luckily understands - is that their interest in science is their only similarity. His dedication to experimentation is linked to an appalling obsession with power and destruction, while Oda is genuinely curious about life. Her quick, quiet intelligence complements her humanity and her lucid understanding of right and wrong. When she strays from a family picnic and discovers a badly wounded Estonian anarchist, she helps him without a second thought, smuggling him into her father's lab and putting her new surgical skills to good use. As their illicit friendship deepens, family turmoil escalates and war closes in. The safe haven of the community collapses, forcing Oda's family to make impossible choices. (

All Quiet on the Western Front

Delbert Mann (United Kingdom 1979)

Language: English
Subtitles: English/Chinese

Based on the most famous German anti-war novel by Erich Maria Remarque

Paul Baumer is a young German who, along with his graduating high school classmates, enlist in the German Imperial Army during the First World War. Originally thinking war would be a great adventure, Paul and his friends discover exactly the opposite as the war drags on and one by one the members of the class are killed in action until only Paul remains.(

"This is a very good anti-war movie. It shows how the young and naive are being brain-washed to think that somehow it is their duty to kill and die. Big words like Fatherland, Kaiser, God, Patriotism. But it is always the young generation that does the dying, whilst the old men discuss strategy over a beer. War has lost whatever legitimacy it ever may have had when the leaders left the front line to lead from the back, safe in their headquarters miles away from the killing. Sending young boys to their death whilst claiming it is eventually for the Good is the ultimate cowardice. Some get their come-uppance, such as Cpl Himmelstoss, but most live their lives in the comfortable cocoon of their self-righteousness – the school teacher, the father, the Kaiser himself.

But sometimes a young soldier sees through the scam, as when Paul kills a Frenchman by sheer instinct, only too late realising what he has been forced to do to someone who might have been his brother. But even then the cultural impregnation is too strong for him to follow his true human feelings and draw the only logical conclusion. And of course in the end he pays the price himself. Destroyed - for what?

That is the lesson that we all should take to heart, to this very day.

A very good film based on an exceptional book. "



The Paths of Glory

Stanley Kubrick (USA 1957)
SALU/DVD/(French Collection)
Language: English

The futility and irony of the war in the trenches in WWI is shown as a unit commander in the French army must deal with the mutiny of his men and a glory-seeking general after part of his force falls back under fire in an impossible attack.


Der rote Baron (The Red Baron)

Nikolai Müllerschön (Germany 2008)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Baron Manfred von Richthofen is the most feared and celebrated pilot of the German air force in World War I. To him and his companions, air combats are events of sporty nature, technical challenge and honorable acting, ignoring the terrible extent of war. But after falling in love with the nurse Käte, Manfred realizes he is only used for propaganda means. Caught between his disgust for the war, and the responsibility for his fighter wing, von Richthofen sets out to fly again. ( 

Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin)

Sergei Eisenstein (USSR 1925)
Language: Russian/English

The movie revolves around an uprising on board the Battleship Potemkin (Bronenoset Potemkin) in 1905. Conditions on the ship are unbearable, which in turn incites revolutionary fervor among the sailors, most notably within the character of Vakulinchik. After the ship's doctor declares rancid meat safe to eat, the sailors buy provisions at the canteen in a show of protest. The Admiral then orders all those who ate the borsch made with the meat to step under the cannons in a show of loyalty. Those who do not are covered under a tarp and ordered shot. Vakulinchik then implores his shipmates to rise up against those who oppress them, namely the officers of the ship. All the officers are killed and the ship is liberated. During the uprising, Vakulinchik dies. His body his placed on the docks in the Odessa harbor as a symbol of the revolution. The citizens of Odessa rally around his body and join the Potemkin in their revolt. Cossaks then come, in one of the most famous scenes of the film, and slaughter the helpless citizens on the steps leading to the harbor, effectively ending the revolt in Odessa. A fleet of battleships then comes to destroy the Potemkin... (


Capitaine Conan

Bertrand Tavernier (France 1996)
Language: French

Subtitles: French, English


Bulgaria near the end of World War I: Conan, warrior and wolf, leads a band of 50 ruthless French fighters who love hand-to-hand combat. Their motto: "We forgot to take prisoners, Captain." At war's end, the unit goes to Bucharest, where Conan tries to keep them out of trouble, defends them when they behave as warriors, and finds he's unsuited for peacetime. His friendship with Norbert, a teacher turned lieutenant, is tested when Norbert accepts a job as court-martial prosecutor because he's learned that Conan will be facing charges and he wants to protect his friend. When they are sent to the Russian border to fight Bolsheviks, Conan is back in his element (imdb)

After World War I, French infantry officer Capitaine Conan and the men that he commands find it difficult to remain in Bucharest, mobilized while ordered not to fight. They are subject to attacks from Romanian Bolsheviks to which they cannot take pre-emptive action. They are tired of guard duty and state dinners. Their anger causes them to resort to crimes. The crimes cause court-martial proceedings.[2] Captaine Conan and Lt. Norbert team up to save the life of a man who is sentenced to death for a desertion that he claims he didn't commit (wikipedia)


Gilles Bourdos (France 2012)
Language: French, German
Subtitles: German

The Côte d'Azur. 1915. In his twilight years, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is tormented by the loss of his wife, the pains of arthritic old age and the terrible news that his son Jean has been wounded in action. But when a young girl miraculously enters his world, the old painter is filled with a new, wholly unexpected energy. Blazing with life, radiantly beautiful, Andrée will become his last model, and the wellspring of a remarkable rejuvenation. Back at the family home to convalesce, Jean too falls under the spell of the new, redheaded star in the Renoir firmament. In their Mediterranean Eden - and in the face of his father's fierce opposition - he falls in love with this wild, untameable spirit... and as he does so, within weak-willed, battle-shaken Jean, a filmmaker begins to grow. (IMDb)


Downton Abbey

(TV Series 1+2; 3, 4 UK 2010-13)

Language: English
Subtitles: English

The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, the Yorkshire country house of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V. The first series spans the two years before the Great War beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, which sets the story in motion. The second series covers the years 1916 to 1919, and the 2011 Christmas Special December covers the 1919 Christmas period, ending in early 1920.  (wikipedia)

Trailer (series 1)
Trailer (series 2)

See also:

Series 3:
Downton Abbey has weathered the war, and the prospect of an impending wedding for Mary and Matthew brings great anticipation, as well as Cora’s mother from America, Martha Levinson. New World and Old World are about to clash as Martha tests tradition at Downton, and the patience of the formidable Lady Violet.

Aside from the sparks upstairs, a very real crisis threatens the foundation and future of Downton. Great houses have been crippled psychologically and financially in the wake of World War I, and Downton may not be exempt. In response, Robert clings decisively to his duty to maintain the home at all costs. But in this changing landscape, nothing is assured, and even the Crawleys may be faced with a new battle to safeguard their beloved Downton.

Amidst sweeping social change, budding romances and surprising betrayals, Downton Abbey returns with a riveting third season starring Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Shirley MacLaine and the rest of stellar cast in the award-winning series from Julian Fellowes. (pbs)

Trailer (series 3)

Series 4:
Six months after Downton Abbey's great tragedy, Mary is mired in grief and the estate is engulfed in death taxes. As the family struggles to lift their financial and emotional woes, clashes arise, sparks fly, and it is up to the older generation to bring Mary back to life, and Robert to his senses – no easy task in either respect. Another departure leaves no tears in its wake, but rather opportunity for new faces – and drama, alliances, and sparks of an entirely different sort – below stairs.

As London draws Downton's youth with its glamorous jazz clubs and sparkling literary scene, social change sweeps its way up to the venerable estate, bringing with it a threat to the continued relevance and very existence of Dowton Abbey. But neither the Crawley family nor its servants can anticipate a dire new threat that penetrates the Abbey's ancestral walls, buttressed as they are by loyalty and love. (pbs)

Trailer (series 4)

Downton Abbey

(TV Series 5, UK 2014)


Language: English
Subtitles: English

Season 5 continues the period drama set in the 1920s and sees the addition of new cast members Richard E. Grant and Anna Chancellor. The 1924 general election brings a new Labour goverment in to power and the building of a war memorial is planned with Carson at the head of the committee. Further storylines include Edith's pregnancy and the consequences of Rose and Jack's broken engagement. (rottentomatoes)



Downton Abbey - A Moorland Holiday

(TV Series Special, UK 2014)


Language: English
Subtitles: English

Autumn of 1924. It's grouse shooting season and Rose's father-in-law invites the Crawley family to a shooting party in Northumberland.


Downton Abbey

(TV Series 6, UK 2016)


Language: English
Subtitles: English

The sixth and final series of the period drama following the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants at Downton Abbey. It is now 1925, when secrets and rifts threaten the unity of the family, while those below stairs are faced with social changes which put all their futures in jeopardy. 
(rotten tomatoes)



Nosferatu, Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu, A Symphony of Horror)  

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (Germany 1922)


Language: - (silent movie)
Subtitles: English, German

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens ("Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror") is a German Expressionist film shot in 1921 by F.W. Murnau, and released in 1922. (

See also: / /


Berlin Alexanderplatz

Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany 1980)
Language: German
Subtitles: English

"The longest narrative film ever made" (939 mins)

Berlin Alexanderplatz is an engrossing psychological portrait of Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht), a Weimar-era worker bee whose slow corrosion of self both parallels and paves the way for the impending rise of Nazism. He's a vividly realized allegorical golem, at moments passive and acquiescent, at others viciously in control. Emerging from a four-year prison stint at film's start, he plugs his ears and contorts his mouth in silent scream (the onscreen title: "The Torment Begins"), though he is no mere victim of the pogrom's progress slowly infecting the German id. In retrospect, I'd say that Biberkopf is more of an accumulative symbol—he wears his ideologies (Nazi newspaper seller, drunk, underground criminal, pimp) like the latest fashions, discarding them when they violently fester or cease to be useful. (Slant Magazine)

see also: Fassbinder - Berlin Alexanderplatz


Comedian Harmonists

Joseph Vilsmaier (Germany 1997))
Language: German

Berlin in 1928: Young actor and musician Harry Frommermann has the idea of creating a German version of the American a-cappella band "The Revellers". He then publishes an advertisement in a newspaper and soon has formed a group out of singers Robert Biberti, Erich Collin, Ari Leschnikoff and Roman Cyckowski as well as pianist Erwin Bootz. After a long time of rehearsing and failures "The Comedian Harmonists", as the group calls her, achieve a huge popularity, success and wealth in Germany as well as Europe and even the United States. The group's trademark are not only brilliant singing performances, it's mostly their talent to imitate music instruments so that the audience gets the impression of listening to a whole orchestra playing while indeed the only real instrument is the piano. However, after years of immense success first problems appear with the beginning of the Nazi period, because three of the group's members are Jews and so soon are forbidden to perform in public. The movie portrays the rising of stars, the sparkling side but also the shadows of their success and finally their fall, being destroyed by politics and a mad government. Very entertaining, very moving and brilliantly acted. (

see also:
Die Comedian Harmonists - Sechs Lebensläufe. Eine Dokumentation von Eberhard Fechner (NDR 1976/2003)

See also: The Web's resources for The Comedian Harmonists



La grande illusion (Grand Illusion)

Jean Renoir (France 1937)
Language: French
Subtitles: Chinese

During 1st WW, two French officers are captured. Captain De Boeldieu is an aristocrat while Lieutenant Marechal was a mechanic in civilian life. They meet other prisoners from various backgrounds, as Rosenthal, son of wealthy Jewish bankers. They are separated from Rosenthal before managing to escape. A few months later, they meet again in a fortress commanded by the aristocrat Van Rauffenstein. De Boeldieu strikes up a friendship with him but Marechal and Rosenthal still want to escape...


Coco avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel)

Anne Fontaine (France/Belgium 2009)
Language: French
Subtitles: Chinese, English

Several years after leaving the orphanage to which her father never returned for her, Gabrielle Chanel finds herself working in a provincial bar both. She's both a seamstress for the performers and a singer, earning the nickname Coco from the song she sings nightly with her sister. A liaison with Baron Balsan gives her an entree into French society and a chance to develop her gift for designing increasingly popular hats. When she falls in love with English businessman Arthur Capel further opportunities open up, though life becomes ever more complicated. (


Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

Jan Kounen (France/Switzerland/apan 2009)
Language: French
Subtitles: Chinese, English

Paris 1913. Coco Chanel is infatuated with the rich and handsome Boy Capel, but she is also compelled by her work. Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is about to be performed. The revolutionary dissonances of Igor's work parallel Coco's radical ideas. She wants to democratize women's fashion; he wants to redefine musical taste. Coco attends the scandalous first performance of The Rite in a chic white dress. The music and ballet are criticized as too modern, too foreign. Coco is moved but Igor is inconsolable. Paris 1920, Coco is newly wealthy and successful but grief-stricken after Boy's death in a car crash. Igor, following the Russian Revolution is now a penniless refugee living in exile in Paris. Coco is introduced to Igor by Diaghilev, impresario of the Ballets Russes. The attraction between them is instant and electric. Coco invites Igor along with his wife - now sick with consumption - together with his four children and a menagerie of birds to stay at her new villa... (


Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson (Germany/UK/USA 2014)


96 min

Language: German, English, French

Subtitles: German English, French, Turkish


GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune -- all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent. 

Wes Anderson is one of the last directors -auteurs- who's got complete control on the film set and has the power to make whatever kind of film he desires. His distinct visual style is apparent since his 1996 debut Bottle Rcoket. But that was just a start, with every film he made he was perfecting his technique more and more. This marvelous attention to detail, the way he composes his shots( tracking shots, the symmetry, the characters running in slow-motion), chase scenes, love story, nostalgia, explanatory montages, the colourful set design and the prevalent theme of every one of his films: family. This all adds up to the reason why the audience enjoys Anderson's film so much. This all is brought to perfection in Grandhotel Budapest. 

Through complex narrative framework, which itself is a mockery of all these films that are being narrated by someone and is also being an excuse for not being too realistic, we get to a story of a young lobby boy named Zero Moustafa and Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes)the concierge of the Grandhotel Budapest. Many of the female guests of the hotel mainly come to enjoy Gustave's company. When one of these ladies passes away, Gustave grabs Zero and boards a train for her mansion. Soon he's blamed for her murder and hunted by police led by Edward Norton and a grim-faced assassin played by Willem Dafoe. There also is a love story between two young teens - Zero and Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) who has a birthmark in the shape of Mexico.

I frankly don't understand how can this film be successful in the USA. This film is just so typically European, that I guess some aspects of the film Americans just aren't familiar with. Some of the humor reminded of old French, Italian and Czech comedies. 

Wes Anderson remains to be a stand-out filmmaker who never disappoints with any of his creations and is a safe bet to rely on his qualities. You won't want to return to the real world when the credits start to roll. (IMDB)


Federico Fellini (Italy 1973)
Language: Italian
Subtitles: English

A year in the life of a small Italian coastal town in the nineteen-thirties, as is recalled by a director with a superstar's access to the resources of the Italian film industry and a piper's command over our imaginations. Federico Fellini's film combines the free form and make-believe splendor with the comic, bittersweet feeling for character and narrative we remember from some of his best films of the 1950s. The town in the film is based on Rimini, where Mr. Fellini grew up. Yet there is now something magical, larger-than-life about the town, its citizens and many of the things that happen to them.(



Tea with Mussolini / Tee mit Mussolini

Franco Zeffirelli (Italy/UK 1999)
Languages: German, English, French, Spanish, Russian
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Dutch Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish

Semi-autobiographical tale from the early life of director Franco Zeffirelli looks at the illegitimate son of an Italian businessman. The boy's mother has died, and he is raised by an Englishwoman in pre-WWII Fascist Italy. Living to each other in Florence, and presided over by an ambassador's widow, a group of Englishwomen live a sheltered existence which they believe is guaranteed personal protection in a tea reception given by Il Duce. However, as war breaks out, the women are interned. Occasionally in this English colony is a wealthy American, who visits among her travels and marriages to wealthy older men. She respects the "Scorpioni", as they are known, and secretly arranges for their stay in a hotel. The ambassador's widow finds her vulgar and tries to ignore her, but when the United States enters the war, the American too is taken into custody. Only then does she discover that her Italian lover has tricked her into signing over all her money and modern art collection to him, and is now arranging her execution. This obliges all to join forces. Lily Tomlin also appears as an American archaeologist working at a dig in the city. (

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Ronald Neame (UK 1968)
Language: English

Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) is a teacher of art and music at a posh private school for girls. She inspires her students to learn but also has an obsessive admiration for people like Franco and Mussolini. Her political ideas often clash with the head of the school Miss MacKay (Celia Johnson). The middle aged spinster Brodie has eyes for fellow teacher Gordon Lowther (Gordon Jackson), but his Catholic marriage prevents him from committing to her. She also has lesbian leanings for her impressionable student Sandy (Pamela Franklin), who has an affair with instructor Teddy Lloyd (Robert Stephens). When a young girl is killed after traveling to join the Spanish Civil War, Jean is blamed for the girl's death by her political influence of the impressionable girl. Maggie Smith won an Oscar for her performance of the troubled teacher. (rottentomatoes)


De Tweeling  (Twin Sisters)

Ben Sombogaart (Netherlands 2002)

Language: German/Dutch
Subtitles: English

1920s Germany. Two Sisters aged six years, no sooner see their remaining parent buried when they are torn apart. Lotte goes to live with her upper middle class Dutch aunt in Holland, Anna to work as a farm hand on her German uncle's rural farm. The story follows their lives as they try to reconcile their differences while World War II impacts each of them on their lives and finally in old age when they meet again, with the hope that the differences in their youth can finally be reconciled.

In 1926 in Germany, the twin sisters Anna and Lotte Bamberg are separated after the death of their parents. Anna stays in Germany with her ignorant catholic uncle and aunt in their small property, and Lotte, with tuberculosis, moves to Holland. Anna is not sent to school, to work in the farm, while Lotte is raised by an upper class family having good education. They do not have any contact with each other, but near the World War II they meet each other. Later Anna marries a young SS officer, while Lotte is engaged of a Jewish musician. Their lives follow different and opposite paths with the war. Anna never gives-up getting their reconciliation. (

See movie trailer here:


Novecento (1900) 

Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy 1976)

Language: English, Italian, FrenchSubtitles: English

Set in Italy, the film follows the lives and interactions of two boys/men, one born a bastard of peasant stock (Depardieu), the other born to a land owner (de Niro). The drama spans from 1900 to about 1945, and focuses mainly on the rise of Fascism and the peasants' eventual reaction by supporting Communism, and how these events shape the destinies of the two main characters.(

1900's immense running time was not just a stunt: Bertolucci cut a wide swath through history, telling the story of two boys born on the same day in 1901 (the date of Giuseppe Verdi's death) – Olmo (played by Depardieu as an adult) is the son of peasants and destined to be a socialist; the other, Alfredo (De Niro as an adult) is the son of landowners and destined to be a hopeless bourgeois, an unwitting defender of fascism, and an inadvertent propagator of crimes against his labourers. The vast historical melodrama that ensues is one of Bertolucci's most committed and audacious works.(


La leggenda del pianista sull' oceano (The Legend of 1900)

Guiseppe Tornatore (Italy 1998)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

An orphan is born on a cruise ship in 1900, and left in a lemon crate in the ballroom. The baby is raised by a machinist on the ship, Danny Boodman, who hides him in the great ship's belly. The boy becomes known simply as 1900. Knowing nothing of the world beyond the coal room and his porthole view of the sea, 1900 is devastated when his 'adopted father' is fatally wounded in a terrible ship accident. Following Danny's death, 1900 evades the captain's attempts to send him ashore to an orphanage. 1900 saves himself when he wanders into first class and finds a shipboard piano -- discovering he is a prodigy who can naturally play glorious, soulful music. He begins playing for the passengers, both rich upstairs and poor below decks. When he grows up, 1900 falls for a New York girl, but has never been on land in his life, and so is too fearful to follow her. His life is lived entirely on board the ship -- eventually, 1900 fades into obscurity -- only a rare recording proves his existence.


Love in the Time of Cholera

Mike Newell (USA 2007)
Language: English
Subtitles: Chinese

Hollywood version of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' famous novel.

At the end of the 19th century in Cartagena, a river port in Colombia, Florentino Ariza falls in love at first sight of Fermina Daza. They secretly correspond and she eventually agrees to marry but her father discovers their relationship and sends her to distant relatives. When she returns some years later, Fermina agrees to marry Dr. Juvenal Urbino, her father's choice. Their fifty year marriage is marked by roughly equal amounts of love and anger. Fermina's marriage devastates Florentino, but his mother throws a willing widow into his bed and he discovers that sex is a very good pain reliever. He begins to number and describe each of his women, beginning with #1, the widow, and eventually has over 600 names and notes. He also decides to be as successful and rich as Dr. Urbino and, when the doctor dies suddenly, immediately renews his courtship of Fermina. (


Chariots of Fire

Hugh Hudson (UK 1981)
Language: English, Chinese
Subtitles: English, Chinese

The true story of two British track athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics. One is a devout Scottish missionary who runs for God, the other is a Jewish student at Cambridge who runs for fame and to escape prejudice. (

The story, told in flashback, of two young British sprinters competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics. Eric, a devout Scottish missionary runs because he knows it must please God. Harold, the son of a newly rich Jew runs to prove his place in Cambridge society. In a warmup 100 meter race, Eric defeats Harold, who hires a pro trainer to prepare him. Eric, whose qualifying heat is scheduled for a Sunday, refuses to run despite pressure from the Olympic committee. A compromise is reached when a nobleman allows Eric to compete in his 400 meter slot. Eric and Harold win their respective races and go on to achieve fame as missionary and businessman/athletic advocate, respectively. ( )


Brideshead Revisited

Julian Jarrold (UK 2008))
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

See also:

“Brideshead Revisited,” Julian Jarrold’s strenuously picturesque adaptation of the novel by Evelyn Waugh, conducts a whirlwind tour of the quadrangles of Oxford and the canals of Venice, always returning to the grand country house of the title, impersonated with lapidary dignity by Castle Howard. At Brideshead, Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode), a young man with artistic ambition and no special pedigree, falls under the spell of an aristocratic Roman Catholic family, conceiving first a “romantic friendship” with the dissolute, epicene younger son, Sebastian Flyte (Ben Whishaw), and then lusting, in his understated English way, after Sebastian’s sister Julia (Hayley Atwell). (


Enchanted April

Mike Newell (UK 1992)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

This slow-paced gem is about the civilizing influence of Italy on beleaguered Londoners both male and female and has it's own civilizing influence on the viewer. It's almost like taking a little mini-trip to Italy, a gorgeously filmed enchantment. 
Four women rent a chateau on a remote Italian island to try to come to grips with their lives and relationships. They explore the differences in their personalities, reassess their goals, and reexamine their relationships in a sisterly fashion. 


Gosford Park

Robert Altman (Britain 2001)
Language: English
Subtitles: Chinese

Sir William McCordle is a wealthy but uncouth industrialist-turned-aristocrat, with a large house in the English countryside, complete with staff. It is a world where everything runs in order - both upstairs, where Sir William and his much younger wife Lady Sylvia indulge in a very comfortable existence of shooting, dinners and parties, and downstairs, where the servants work endlessly under the command of the butler Mr. Jennings, and the housemaid Mrs. Wilson. Whether they like it or not, everyone knows their place. But a shooting party will change all of that, with friends of the McCordles and their servants arriving from outside to upset the order. And so begins a complicated tale of secrets, lies, deceit, betrayal, revenge, bitterness, hatred, money and love - and that's all before the murder...(


The Remains of the Day

James Ivory (UK 1993)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portugues, Chinese, Korean, Thai

A rule bound head butler's world of manners and decorum in the household he maintains is tested by the arrival of a housekeeper who falls in love with him in post-WWI Britain. The possibility of romance and his master's cultivation of ties with the Nazi cause challenge his carefully maintained veneer of servitude. ( 


A Passage to India

David Lean (Britain 1984)
Language: English
Subtitles: Chinese

Tensions between Indians and the colonial British come to a boil when a white female tourist accuses a young Indian Doctor of rape during a visit to caverns. A study of colonial relations and the nature of memory. Based on E. M. Forster's novel.

Adela Quested, a young Englishwoman, travels to India in the late 1920s to visit her fiancé, a British magistrate posted in a small town; her traveling companion is his mother Mrs. Moore. They want to see something of the country and to meet everyday Indians, but are frustrated by the British community's insistence that relations with the locals are best experienced from a distance. Finally, a friend introduces them to a Muslim doctor whom Mrs. Moore had seen briefly on her visit to a mosque. He takes them on an outing to the nearby caverns (a local attraction), but what happens there threatens to destroy any civility between the British and Indian societies. (

See also: Classic Notes - A Passage to India


Indian Summers

TV Series (UK 2015-)

Language: English:
Subtitles: English 

Set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, the drama tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India, from both sides of the experience. But at the heart of the story lie the implications and ramifications of the tangled web of passions, rivalries and clashes that define the lives of those brought together in this summer which will change everything. It's the summer of 1932. India dreams of Independence, but the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla; a little England where every summer the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the summer months. (IMDB)



James Ivory (India 1965)

Language: English
Subtitles: English

Tony Buckingham (Geoffrey Kendal) and his wife Carla (Laura Lidell) are the actor-managers of a troupe of traveling Shakespearean actors in post-colonial India; they must grapple with a diminishing demand for their craft as the English theatre on the subcontinent is supplanted by the emerging genre of Indian film. Lizzie Buckingham (Felicity Kendal), the couple's daughter, falls in love with Sanju (Shashi Kapoor), a wealthy young Indian playboy who is also involved in a romance with the glamorous Bombay film star Manjula (Madhur Jaffrey). The Buckinghams, for whom acting is a profession, a lifestyle, and virtually a religion, must weigh their devotion to their craft against their concern over their daughter's future in a country which, it seems, no longer has a place for her.

Like its title, Shakespeare Wallah is a film of unexpected juxtapositions and cultural conflict; it is a look at changing values in art, and an examination of the question of what it means to be indigenous to a place. (


Viceroy’s House (Der Stern von Indien)

Gurinder Chadha (India, UK, Sweden)

Languages: English, German
Subtitles: English, German

New Dehli in March 1947. The huge and stately Viceroy's Palace is like a beehive. Its five hundred employees are busy preparing the coming of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who has just been appointed new (and last) viceroy of India by prime minister Clement Attlee. Mountbatten, whose difficult task consists of overseeing the transition of British India to independence, arrives at the Palace, accompanied by Edwina, his liberal-minded wife and Pamela, his eighteen-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, in the staff quarters, a love story is born between Jeet, a Hindu, and Aalia, a Muslim beauty. Things will prove difficult - not to say very difficult - both on the geopolitical and personal level. (imdb)

Doctor Zhivago

David Lean (UK 1965)
Language: Deutsch, English
Subtitles: Deutsch, English

A Russian epic, the movie traces the life of surgeon-poet Yury Zhivago before and during the Russian Revolution. Married to an upper-class girl who is devoted to him, yet in love with an unfortunate woman who becomes his muse, Zhivago is torn between fidelity and passion. Sympathetic with the revolution but shaken by the wars and purges, he struggles to retain his individualism as a humanist amid the spirit of collectivism. (

After the novel by the Russian dissident Boris Pasternak

Defenders of Riga

Aigas Graubar (Latvia 2007)

Language: Latvian
Subtitles: English, Chinese

The film dramatizes November 11, 1919- a crucial date in the battle for Latvian independence. A year after the end of the official hostilities of WWI, a renegade German general and troops remain outside the Latvian capital. Latvian riflemen, most of them inexperienced volunteers, somehow managed to defeat a larger, better-armed force of German and Russian mercenaries.  (  

The Damned (Götterdämmerung/La Caduta degli dei)

Luchino Visconti (Italy/Germany 1969)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Français, Español

The story of the Krupp family, owners of Germany's richest industrial holding, during the rise of the Nazis to power.

In the early days of Nazi Germany, a powerful noble family must adjust to life under the new dictatorship regime. The transition from democracy to dictatorship is thus dramatized through the lives of the family which also owns a powerful German industrial firm. Through such characters as a German Baron, a child molester, a Nazi Storm Trooper, an innocent man framed for murder, and a Captain in the German SS, "Damned" thus shows how so called "German Upper Class Nobility" first resented Adolf Hitler, then accepted him, and at last embraced him. (


Bob Fosse (Germany/USA 1972)

Language: English

Originally a 1966 Broadway musical, this groundbreaking Bob Fosse musical was in turn based on Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin [...]. Fosse uses the decadent and vulgar cabaret as a mirror image of German society sliding toward the Nazis, and this intertwining of entertainment with social history marked a new step forward for the movie musical. Michael York plays a British writer who comes to Berlin in the early 1930s in hopes of becoming a teacher. He makes the acquaintance of flamboyant American entertainer Sally Bowles, played by Liza Minnelli. Sally works at the Kit Kat Klub, a George Grosz-like Berlin cabaret where each night the smirking, androgynous Master of Ceremonies (Joel Grey) introduces a jazz-driven "girlie show" to his debauched audience. Virtually all the film's musical numbers are staged within the confines of the Kit Kat Klub, and each song comments on the plot and on Germany's "progression" from hedonism to Hitlerism. [...] Cabaret won eight Oscars [...]. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)

Josef von Sternberg (Germany 1930)
Language: German or English

The Blue Angel is a film directed by Josef von Sternberg in 1930, based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat. The film is considered to be the first major German sound film and it brought world fame to actress Marlene Dietrich. In addition, it introduced her signature song, Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It).

The Blue Angel follows Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings) through a transformation from esteemed educator at the local Gymnasium (college preparatory high school) to a destitute vagrant in pre-World War II Germany. Rath’s descent begins when he punishes several of his students for circulating photographs of the beautiful Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich) the headliner for the local strip club, The Blue Angel. Hoping to catch the boys at the club itself, Professor Rath goes to the club later that evening and meets his eventual downfall: the lovely Lola herself.

Consumed with desire and determined to remain at Lola’s side, Rath returns to the night club the following evening (to return a pair of panties that were smuggled into his coat by one of his students) and stays the night with her. The next morning, reeling from his night of passion, Rath arrives late to school to find his classroom in chaos and the principal furious with his behavior.

Rath subsequently resigns his position at the academy to marry Lola, but their happiness is short-lived, as they soon fritter away the teacher's meager savings and Rath is forced to take a position as a clown in Lola’s cabaret troupe to pay the bills. His growing insecurities about Lola’s profession as a “shared woman” eventually reduce him to a mere shell of the man he used to be, consumed by his lust and jealousy ... (

Lady Chatterley

Pascale Ferran (France 2006)
Language: French
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Sir Clifford has returned from the Great War to his estate near Sheffield, paralyzed from the waist down. Lady Constance, his young wife, cares for him, but she's lifeless, enervated. Her physician prescribes the open air, and she finds a quiet retreat at the hut - the workplace - of Parkin, the estate's gamekeeper. The rhythms of nature awaken Connie - daffodils, pheasant chicks - and soon she and Parkin become lovers. She's now radiant. Parkin, too, opens up. Class distinctions and gender roles may be barriers to the affair becoming more. Connie's trip to France, with her father and sister, bring the lovers to a nuanced resolution.

A French adaptation of the second (and much less well-known) version of D.H. Lawrence's erotic tale. ( 

Trailer (French)

L’âge d’or

Luis Buñuel / Salvador Dali (France 1930)
SALU/DVD/(French Collection)
Language: French

Considered by many to be the probably most important film ever made. A man and a woman are passionately in love with one another, but their attempts to consummate that passion are constantly thwarted, by their families, the Church and bourgeois society.

After the 1929 surreal short film "Un Chien Andalou"; Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali collaborated once again. This time in 1930 for "L Age d'Or" (the Age of Gold), a scathing satire attacking the bourgeois state, religion, and the wealthy elite. The film concerns a man's quest for a women's unattainable love; a common theme with Buñuel. The couple is caught making love and separated by authorities. Throughout, the film the man tries to pursue the woman with no luck. He's repeatedly interrupted by different institutions. Finally, the couple is reunited at a snotty high class party. Things go downhill from there as the film gets more and more crazy. " L Age d'Or" contains many bizarre surreal images, and dark humor that was way ahead of it's time. In fact, its festival premiere caused a riot. It was controversial for its blasphemous images. Of course, today it is less shocking and more hilarious. Buñuel and Dali were anarchic in their vision of society. Attacking every form of hypocrisy through surrealism, they inspired many directors. This film is a must for anyone who's interested in surrealism or the history of cinema.


L'amant (The Lover)

Jean-Jacques Annaud (France/UK/Vietnam 1992)
Language: English
Subtitles: -

It is French Colonial Vietnam in 1929. A young French girl from a family that is having some monetary difficulties is returning to boarding school. She is alone on public transportation when she catches the eye of a wealthy Chinese businessman. He offers her a ride into town in the back of his chauffeured sedan, and sparks fly. Can the torrid affair that ensues between them overcome the class restrictions and social mores of that time? Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras. (


Gloomy Sunday - Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod

Rolf Schübel (Deutschland /Hungary 1999)
Language: German
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Budapest in the thirties. The restaurant owner Laszlo hires the pianist András to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires András to his only composition. His song of Gloomy Sunday is, at first, loved and then feared, for its melancholic melody triggers off a chain of suicides. The fragile balance of the erotic ménage à trois is sent off kilter when the German Hans goes and falls in love with Ilona as well. (


Mrs Henderson Presents

Stephen Frears (United Kingdom 2005)
Language: English
Subtitles: English

Recently widowed well-to-do Laura Henderson is at a bit of a loose end in inter-war London. On a whim she buys the derelict Windmill theatre in the West End and persuades impresario Vivian Van Damm to run it, despite the fact the two don't seem to get on at all. Although their idea of a non-stop revue is at first a success, other theatres copy it and disaster looms. Laura suggests they put nudes in the show, but Van Damm points out that the Lord Chamberlain, who licenses live shows in Britain, is likely to have something to say about this. Luckily Mrs Henderson is friends with him.(


Werner Herzog (UK/Germany 2001)
Languages: French, English
Subtitles: French

The film is based on the true story of Zishe Breitbart, a Jewish blacksmith's son from Poland who becomes a sensation in Weimar, Berlin as a mythical strongman. His employer Hanussen dreams of establishing an all-powerful Ministry of the Occult in Hitler's government. Yet as Hitler's hold on power grows more sure, and Berlin erupts in a ferment of anti-Semitism, Zishe must decide how he will use his strength. Plagued by nightmares, he takes counsel from a local rabbi. He becomes convinced that he has been chosen by God to warn his people of the grave danger they face. (ImdB)

The King's Speech

Tom Hooper (UK 2010)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war. (

John Rabe

Florian Gallenberger (Germany/China 2009)
Language: German, English
Subtitles: German, English, Chinese

A true-story account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.


Giuseppe Tornatore (Italy 2000)

Language: Italian
Subtitles: English, Chinese

On the day in 1940 that Italy enters the war, two things happen to the 12-year-old Renato: he gets his first bike, and he gets his first look at , a beautiful, silent outsider who's moved to this Sicilian town to be with her husband Nico who promptly goes off to war, leaving her to the lustful eyes of the men and the sharp tongues of the women. During the next few years, as Renato grows toward manhood, he watches Malèna suffer and prove her mettle: her loneliness, then grief when Nico is reported dead, the effects of slander on her relationship with her father, her poverty and search for work, and final humiliations. Will Renato learn courage from Malèna and stand up for her? (


Il giardino dei Finzi Contini (The Garden of the Finzi Contini) 

Vittorio de Sica (Italy 1970)

Language: Italian
Subtitles: English

In the late 1930s, in Ferrara, Italy, the Finzi-Contini are one of the leading families, wealthy, aristocratic, urbane; they are also Jewish. Their adult children, Micol and Alberto, gather a circle of friends for constant rounds of tennis and parties at their villa with its lovely grounds, keeping the rest of the world at bay. Into the circle steps Giorgio, a Jew from the middle class who falls in love with Micol. She seems to toy with him, and even makes love to one of his friends while she knows Giorgio is watching. While his love cannot seem to break through to her to draw her out of her garden idyll, the forces of politics close in. (

Suite Française 

Saul Dibb (UK/France/Belgium 2014)

Language:  English

Subtitles: English

France, 1940. In the first days of occupation, beautiful Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams is trapped in a stifled existence with her controlling mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas) as they both await news of her husband: a prisoner of war. Parisian refugees start to pour into their small town, soon followed by a regiment of German soldiers who take up residence in the villagers' own homes. Lucile initially tries to ignore Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts), the handsome and refined German officer staying with them. But soon, a powerful love draws them together and leads them into the tragedy of war. (IMDB


Andrzej Wajda (Poland 2007)

Language: Polish/Russian/German
Subtitles: English, Chinese

The story of a political coverup of the Soviet war crime in which thousands of Polish officers and citizens were slaughtered in the Katyn forest in 1940...

The story is mainly told through the families left behind as fathers, sons and husbands are transported east to prison camps.

In 1943 the Germans discovered the mass graves and attributed the atrocity to the Russians. However in post-war Poland history was re-written by the Soviets, the Germans were blamed and Katyn became a forbidden topic.

This is wonderful classic filmmaking from a master. Wajda had reason to be emotional about this film because his own father, a Captain in the Polish cavalry, was one of the victims of Katyn.

This film reveals a history that was distorted for political purposes, only acknowledged in 1990 by the Russians. Living with that revelation of the massacre in 1943 and later with the suppression of the truth was an anguish for many Poles, often a fatal anguish.

The power of this film comes not through the personal, although that is there, it comes through the tapestry woven by Wajda about that history, the exquisite recreation of the era culminating in a most dreadful and powerful final sequence.

An important film in many ways, demonstrating as it does the dangers of totalitarianism in any form and suppression of freedom of speech. (

Spring 1941

Uri Barbash (Israel/Poland 2008)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Successful doctor Artur Planck, his wife Clara and their two daughters are seeking shelter from the Nazis storming Poland. They find a safe house in the farm of Emilia, their local grocer who is all alone after her husband fought for his country and never returned. Amidst the horrors of the war that surrounds them, an impossible love triangle erupts as Emelia uncontrollably falls in love with Artur. Such a fragile arrangement is sustained by love - or is it just the will to survive? The answer to that question may not even be made known to those who make it out alive.(


Dennis Gansel (Germany 2004)
Language: Deutsch

In 1942, Friedrich Weimer's boxing skills get him an appointment to a National Political Academy (NaPolA) - high schools that produce Nazi elite. Over his father's objections, Friedrich enrolls, seeing this as his ticket out of factory life to university and a good salary. During his year in seventh column (fifth form), this innocence is altered as Friedrich encounters hazing, cruelty, death, and the Nazi code. His friendship with Albrecht, the ascetic son of the area's governor, is central to this education; a night in the forest hunting for escaped Russian POWs brings things to a head. (

Attack on Leningrad

Alexandr Buravsky (Russia/UK 2009)
Language: Deutsch, Russian, English
Subtitles: English, Chinese


When in 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, their troops quickly besieged Leningrad. Foreign journalists are evacuated but one of them, Kate Davies, is presumed dead and misses the plane. Alone in the city she is helped by Nina Tsvetnova a young and idealist police officer and together they will fight for their own survival and the survival of the people in the besieged Leningrad. 

It is 1941, and World War II rages on; the Nazis succeeded in taking over half of Europe and part of Russia until they reached Leningrad. Hitler fails to take Leningrad after a four-month-long offensive in 1941. Hitler realizes that Leningrad could not be taken by force, and now he will surround the city for three years, and starve three million people to death. In the midst of this horrific siege, a young English journalist, Kate Davis, finds herself among surviving Russians within the famished city of Leningrad. (

The Imitation Game

Morten Tyldum (UK 2014)
Language: English

During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.


Lidice (Fall of the Innocent)

Petr Nikolaev (Czech Republik / Slovakia 2011)
Language: Czech, German
Subtitles: English

At the beginning of the story Lidice is just one of many small Czech villages trying to survive the war as best as it can. Day-to-day existence within the Protectorate flows along almost serenely and the biggest upheaval is a pub brawl where by accident a drunk father kills his own son. The crime is justly punished and the poor wretch Sima starts his sentence. But thanks to this he, alone, survives his family as well as his entire village which becomes the scapegoat for the assassination of Heydrich, a Nazi Officer. The tale of this deeply paradoxical hero is full of contradictions yet remains truly human and forms the spine of the whole film. ( 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Der Junge im gestreiften Pyjama)

Mark Herman (UK 2008)

Language: English

Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences. (IMDB  )


The Pianist

Roman Polanski (France/Germany 2002)
Language: English
Subtitles: Chinese

The true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman who, in the 1930s, was known as the most accomplished piano player in all of Poland, if not Europe. At the outbreak of the Second World War, however, Szpilman becomes subject to the anti-Jewish laws imposed by the conquering Germans. By the start of the 1940s, Szpilman has seen his world go from piano concert halls to the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw and then must suffer the tragedy of his family deported to a death camp, while Szpilman is conscripted into a forced German Labor Compound. At last deciding to escape, Szpilman goes into hiding as a Jewish refugee where he is witness to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Warsaw City Revolt in 1945. (

See also:


Enemy at the Gates

Jean Jacques Annaud (France/Germany 2001)
Language: English
Subtitles: Chinese

In the winter of 1942, the German and Russian Armies meet in the great Battle of the Stalingrad, one of the most vicious engagements of the Second World War. Enter into this horror a young Russian soldier, formerly a peasant boy with an extraordinary ability to sharpshot a rifle from far distances. The Russian snipper soon gains fame after killing a record number of German officers causing the Germans to bring in their own snipper expert: a war weathered Major who always accomplishes his mission no matter what the cost. With the Battle of Stalingrad raging around them, these two men must now fight each other. (


Vita è bella (Life is Beautiful)

Roberto Benigni (Italy 1997) 
Language: Italian
Subtitles: English

It's 1939. The ebullient, playful Guido comes to town. He works as a waiter under the watchful eye of his uncle, an elegant man who is a Jew. Guido falls for Dora, a schoolteacher, whom he calls "princess" and courts by popping up at unexpected times. She dumps her fiancé to choose Guido. The film jumps ahead to the war's last months. Nora and Guido have a child, Giosué, and when Guido and the lad are shipped to a concentration camp, Dora voluntarily follows. Although the men and women in the camp are separated and a child is in mortal peril, Guido finds ways to communicate with Dora, to hide Giosué, and to convince the boy this is an elaborate game, a special contest to win a tank. (



Gosta Gavras (France 2002)


Language: English

The Holocaust and the silence of the Catholic Church during WW II
Two systems: the Nazi machine versus the Vatican and Allied diplomacy. Two men struggling from the inside. On one side, Kurt Gerstein, a real-life chemist and SS officer, supplied the death camps with zyklon B while he tirelessly denounced the crimes and alerted the Allies, the Pope, the Germans and their churches at his family's and his own risk. On the other, Ricardo Fontana, a young Jesuit, a fictitious character who represents all the priests who had the heart to struggle against savagery, often paying for their courage with their lives. Countless priests, some known, others anonymous, who simply were not content to live with the silence of their church's hierarchy. 



Marco Bellocchio (Italy/France 2009)

Language: Italian
Subtitles: English, Chinese

This unusual and offbeat historical drama rests on a little-known conceit. Though seldom discussed in history books (and reportedly undisclosed for half a century), fascist dictator Benito Mussolini conceived an illegitimate son by a woman named Ida Dalser -- a son Mussolini allowed to be born, acknowledged, and then promptly denied for the duration of his life. The tale begins in early 20th century Milan, with Benito (Fabrizio Costella) working as the socialist editor of a controversial newspaper called Avanti. His dream in life involves triumphantly leading the Italian masses away from monarchy and toward a "socially emancipated future." He met the young and wealthy Ida (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) once before, in Trento -- where they enjoyed a brief exchange; they re-encounter one another during Mussolini's period at Avanti and it becomes clear that Ida has fallen deeply in love with Benito. She believes wholeheartedly in his ideals and his future as the leader of Italy -- to such an extent that she sells everything she has (her apartment, furniture, jewelry, and the beauty salon she owns) to fuel the development of his newspaper, Il Popolo d'Italia.While the two become romantically entangled, with Ida positively magnetized by Benito's charisma and Benito hooked on a lust for power, Benito quickly switches spiritual and political allegiances overnight, changing from an atheistic socialist to a deeply Catholic fascist -- Catholic, because an allegiance with the Vatican will enable him to wrest and retain control over Italy's government. Benito and Ida marry and parent a son together, Benito Albino Mussolini (circa 1915), but the marriage certificate soon conveniently disappears and Ida learns, to her horror, that Benito has married someone else. She unwisely begins to protest the situation -- so loudly and persistently that she's first forced into house arrest and then shoved permanently into an insane asylum -- raising key questions about the fate and future of her young son. On a stylistic level, director Marco Bellocchio films this historical material with the passion, theatricality, lyricism, and tragedy of a classical Italian opera. (




Aimée and Jaguar

Max Färberböck (Germany 2001)
Language: German
Subtitles: English 

True story from WWII Berlin about the love of two women, one 'German' and one 'Jewish.
Berlin 1943/44 ("The Battle of Berlin"). Felice, an intelligent and courageous Jewish woman who lives under a false name, belongs to an underground organization. Lilly, a devoted mother of four, though an occasional unfaithful wife, is desperate for love. An unusual and passionate love between them blossoms despite the danger of persecution and nightly bombing raids. The Gestapo is on Felice's trail. Her friends flee, she decides to sit out the war with Lilly. One hot day in August 1944, the Gestapo is waiting in Lilly's flat... 



Margarethe von Trotta (Germany 2000) 
Language: German.
Subtitles: Chinese, English

A journalist discovers how her mother's life was saved in Nazi Germany in 1943. The film is a testimonial to the various small ways of popular antipathy and resistance to the racist Nazi regime.

See also:




Frank Pierson (Britain 2001)
Language: English
Subtitles: Chinese, English

Exquisite canapes are being prepared and fine wines decanted before the arrival of 15 esteemed guests at an elegant mansion in the salubrious Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. Later, the host, the immaculately suave General Reinhard Heydrich, suggests that the guests unwind by listening to Schubert's Quintet in C major, as "the adagio will tear your heart out". However, these leading Nazi officials have not gathered to exchange social niceties, but to thrash out the logistics of Hitler's "Final Solution" for exterminating the Jews of Europe. (



Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (Sophie Scholl - The Final Days)

Marc Rothemund (Germany 2005)
Language: German
Subtitles: English

2005 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Sophie Scholl - The Final Days is the true story of Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine brought to thrilling dramatic life. Sophie Scholl stars Julia Jentsch in a luminous performance as the fearless activist of the underground student resistance group, The White Rose. Armed with long-buried historical records of her incarceration, director Marc Rothemund expertly re-creates the last six days of Sophie Scholl's life: a heart-stopping journey from arrest to interrogation, trial and sentence in 1943 Munich. Unwavering in her convictions and loyalty to her comrades, her cross-examination by the Gestapo quickly escalates into a searing test of wills as Scholl delivers a passionate call to freedom and personal responsibility that is both haunting and timeless. 

Munich, 1943: Sophie and Hans Scholl are members of the "Weiße Rose" (White Rose), a resistance group against the Nazi regime. When the siblings lay out fliers at the university, they are caught by the caretaker who calls the Gestapo. After their imprisonment, they are interrogated for days. In the beginning, Sophie manages to bluff the questioning official Robert Mohr, but Hans finally confesses everything. Now Sophie vindicates her ideals, but also tries to protect the other group members. On February 22nd, the Scholls and their aide Christoph Probst are accused of high treason and sentenced to death. As the execution tooks place the same day, Sophie has to take leave of her family... (

See also:

In Darkness

Agnieszka Holland (Poland 2011)

Languages: German, Polish, Yiddish
Subtitles: Deutsch

IN DARKNESS tells the true story of Leopold Soha who risks his own life to save a dozen people from certain death. Initially only interested in his own good, the thief and burglar hides Jewish refugees for 14 months in the sewers of the Nazi-occupied town of Lvov (former Poland, now Ukaine) ( 

Roma, Citta Aperta (Rome, Open City / Rom, offene Stadt)

Roberto Rossellini (Italy 1945)

Languages: Italian / German
Subtitles: German

The location: Nazi occupied Rome. As Rome is classified an open city, most Romans can wander the streets without fear of the city being bombed or them being killed in the process. But life for Romans is still difficult with the Nazi occupation as there is a curfew, basic foods are rationed, and the Nazis are still searching for those working for the resistance and will go to any length to quash those in the resistance and anyone providing them with assistance. War worn widowed mother Pina is about to get married to her next door neighbor Francesco. Despite their situation - Pina being pregnant, and Francesco being an atheist - Pina and Francesco will be wed by Catholic priest Don Pietro Pelligrini. The day before the wedding, Francesco's friend, Giorgio Manfredi, who Pina has never met, comes looking for Francesco as he, working for the resistance, needs a place to hide out. For his latest mission, Giorgio also requests the assistance of Don Pietro, who is more than willing as he sees such work as being in the name of God. Don Pietro's position also provides him with access to where others are not able. Giorgio's girlfriend, Marina, a cabaret performer, doesn't even know where Giorgio is in hiding. Both Pina and Marina take measures to improve their lives under this difficult situation, those actions in combination which have tragic consequences. ( 

Elle s'appelait Sarah (Sarah's Key / Sarah's Schlüssel)

Gilles Pacquet-Brenner (France 2011)
Language: Deutsch
Subtitles: French, English

One of the darkest moments in French history occurred in 1942 Paris when French officials rounded up over 10,000 Jews and placed them in local camps. Eventually over 8,000 were sent off to German concentration camps. As 10-year old Sarah and her family are being arrested, she hides her younger brother in a closet. After realizing she will not be allowed to go home, Sarah does whatever she can to get back to her brother. In 2009, a journalist named Julia is on assignment to write a story on the deported Jews in 1942. When she moves into her father-in-law's childhood apartment, she realizes it once belonged to the Strazynski family, and their daughter Sarah. (

La Mer a l'Aube (Das Meer am Morgen)

Volker Schlöndorf (France/Germany 2011)
Languages: French, German
Subtitles: French, German

On 20th of October 1941, three young communists shoot the German commander Hotz in the French port of Nantes. As a reprisal and deterrent, a furious Hitler orders the execution of a hundred prisoners, mostly communists and resisters. Among them, the 17 year old Guy Môquet, the son of a communist member of Parliament. This real story, focusing on Môquet and his friends in the detainee camp, shows the conflicting interests between the German high commander Von Stülpnagel and his entourage in France (the famous writer Ernst Jünger), Berlin, and the puppet regime of Vichy (and the ambiguous role of the French police). A very moving and historical accurately told story. (


Paragraph 175

Robert Epstein / Jeffrey Friedman (Germany, UK, USA 2000)
Language: English, French, German
Subtitles: Deutsch


By the 1920's, Berlin had become known as a homosexual eden, where gay men and lesbians lived relatively open lives amidst an exciting subculture of artists and intellectuals. With the coming to power of the Nazis, all this changed. Between 1933 and 1945 100,000 men were arrested for homosexuality under Paragraph 175, the sodomy provision of the German penal code dating back to 1871. Some were imprisoned, others were sent to concentration camps. Of the latter, only about 4,000 survived. Today, fewer than ten of these men are known to be living. Five of them have now come forward to tell their stories for the first time in this powerful new film. The Nazi persecution of homosexuals may be the last untold story of the Third Reich. Paragraph 175 fills a crucial gap in the historical record, and reveals the lasting consequences of this hidden chapter of 20th century history, as told through personal stories of men and women who lived through it: the half Jewish gay resistance fighter who spent the war helping refugees in Berlin; the Jewish lesbian who escaped to England with the help of a woman she had a crush on; the German Christian photographer who was arrested and imprisoned for homosexuality, then joined the army on his release because he "wanted to be with men"; the French Alsatian teenager who watched as his lover was tortured and murdered in the camps. These are stories of survivors -- sometimes bitter, but just as often filled with irony and humor; tortured by their memories, yet infused with a powerful will to endure. Their moving testimonies, rendered with evocative images of their lives and times, tell a haunting, compelling story of human resilience in the face of unspeakable cruelty. Intimate in its portrayals, sweeping in its implications, Paragraph 175 raises provocative questions about memory, history, and identity. ( 


Walküre (Valkyrie)

Bryan Singer (Germany/USA 2008)
Language: English, Chinese
Subtitles: English, Chinese

In Nazi Germany during World War II, as the tide turned in favor of The Allies, a cadre of senior German officers and politicians desperately plot to topple the Nazi regime before the nation is crushed in a near-inevitable defeat. To this end, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, an Army officer convinced he must save Germany from Hitler, is recruited to mastermind a real plan. To do so, he arranges for the internal emergency measure, Operation: Valkyrie, to be changed to enable his fellows to seize control of Berlin after the assassination of the Fuhrer. However, even as the plan is put into action, a combination of bad luck and human failings conspire on their own to create a tragedy that would prolong the greater one gripping Europe. (



Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Salò - The 120 Days of Sodom)

Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy 1976)
Language: Italian
Subtitles: English

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s notorious final film, Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, has been called nauseating, shocking, depraved, pornographic . . . it’s also a masterpiece. The controversial poet, novelist, and filmmaker’s transposition of the Marquis de Sade’s 18th-century opus of torture and degradation to 1944 Fascist Italy remains one of the most passionately debated films of all time, a thought-provoking inquiry into the political, social, and sexual dynamics that define the world we live in.
Set in the Nazi-controlled, northern Italian state of Salo in 1944, four dignitaries round up sixteen perfect specimens of youth and take them together with guards, servants and studs to a palace near Marzabotto. In addition, there are four middle-aged women: three of whom recount arousing stories whilst the fourth accompanies on the piano. The story is largely taken up with their recounting the stories of Dante and De Sade: the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Shit and the Circle of Blood. Following this, the youths are executed whilst each libertine takes his turn as voyeur. (


 La Ciociara (Two Women)

Vittorio de Sica (Italy 1960)

Language: Italian
Subtitles: English

The story centers on a mother, Cesira (Loren), a widowed Roman shopkeeper, and Rosetta (Brown), her devoutly religious teenage daughter, during World War II. Amid Allied bombing of Rome, Cesira and her daughter flee south to her native Ciociaria, a poor, mountainous region of Italy.

There, Cesira attracts the attention of a young local intellectual with communist sympathies, Michele (Belmondo). However, Michele is eventually taken prisoner by a company of German soldiers, who hope to use him as a guide to the mountainous terrain. He is never heard from again.

For months, the two women await the arrival of the Allied forces. But liberation brings unexpected tragedy. On their way home, the pair are raped by Goumiers (Moroccan allied soldiers) serving in the French Army, and the daughter suffers a nervous breakdown. (Wikipedia)


Perlasca. Un eroe Italiano (Perlasca: The Courage of a Just Man)

Alberto Negrin (Italy/Hungary/France/Sweden 2005)
Language: Italian
Subtitles: Chinese, English

This film is based on the true story of Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian businessman who passed himself off as the Spanish Consul in Budapest, Hungary, in an effort to save more than 5,000 Jews from Nazi extermination near the end of World War II. (

See also: Giorgio Perlasca


Der Untergang (The Downfall)

Oliver Hirschbiegel (Deutschland 2004)

Language: German
Subtitles: Chinese, English

In April of 1945, Germany stands at the brink of defeat with the Russian Army closing in from the east and the Allied Expeditionary Force attacking from the west. In Berlin, capitol of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler proclaims that Germany will still achieve victory and orders his Generals and advisers to fight to the last man. "Downfall" explores these final days of the Reich, where senior German leaders (such as Himmler and Goring) began defecting from their beloved Fuhrer, in an effort to save their own lives, while still others (Joseph Goebbels) pledge to die with Hitler. Hitler, himself, degenerates into a paranoid shell of a man, full of optimism one moment and suicidal depression the next. When the end finally does comes, and Hitler lies dead by his own hand, what is left of his military must find a way to end the killing that is the Battle of Berlin, and lay down their arms in surrender. (

See also:


Mein Führer - die wirklich wahrste Wahrheit über Adolf Hitler
(Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler)

Dani Levy (Germany 2007)
Languages: German, Hebrew, Yiddish
Subtitles: Chinese, English

December 1944: the "total war" is as good as totally lost. Goebbels, however, isn't willing to be so easily defeated. On New Year's Day, the Fuhrer is supposed to re-ignite the public's fighting spirit with as aggressive speech. The only problem is that the Fuhrer can't do it. Sick and depressive, he is avoiding the public. The only person who can now help is his former acting teacher, Adolf Grunbaum... a Jew. Goebbels spirits him and his family out of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and sets them up in the Reich Chancellery. Time is running out - the Fuhrer has only five days to return to top form... (sensasian)

Judgment at Nuremberg

Stanley Kramer (1961)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

It has been three years since the most important Nazi leaders had already been tried. This trial is about 4 Judges who used their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies. Retired American Judge, Judge Dan Haywood has a daunting task ahead of him. The Cold War is heating up and no one wants any more trials as Germany, and allied Governments, want to forget the past. But is that the right thing to do is the question that the tribunal must decide.



Lajos Koltai (Hungary/Germany/Israel 2005)
Language: Hungarian
Subtitles: English, Chinese


Based on the novel by Imre Kertész. Set in 1944, as Hitler’s Final Solution becomes policy throughout Europe, FATELESS is the semi-autobiographical tale of a 14 year-old Jewish boy from Budapest, who finds himself swept up by cataclysmic events beyond his comprehension.

A perfectly normal metropolitan teen who has never felt particularly connected to his religion, he is suddenly separated from his family as part of the rushed and random deportation of his city’s large Jewish population. Brought to a concentration camp, his existence becomes a surreal adventure in adversity and adaptation, and he is never quite sure if he is the victim of his captors, or of an absurd destiny that metes out salvation and suffering arbitrarily. When he returns home after the liberation, he misses the sense of community he experienced in the camps, feeling alienated from both his Christian neighbors who turned a blind eye to his fate, and the Jewish family friends who avoided deportation and who now want to put the war behind them.

“FATELESS shows us a vision of the Holocaust that has never before been portrayed on screen,” says Urman of the film. “It is a remarkable adaptation of a great novel, and the fact that Kertész himself has played such an important role in its genesis, makes it all the more meaningful an experience.” (



La Belle et la Bête (The Beauty and the Beast)

Jean Cocteau (France 1945)
SALU/DVD/(French Collection)
Language: French
Subtitles: English, Chinese


A half-ruined merchant lives in the country with his son Ludovic and his three daughters. Two of the daughters, Felicie and Adelaide, are real shrews, selfish, pretentious, evil. They exploit the third daughter, Belle, as a servant. One day, the merchant gets lost in the forest and enters a strange castle. He picks up a rose for Belle and the castle's owner appear. He is a monster, half-human, half-beast, and possesses magic powers. He sentences the merchant to death, unless he give up one of his daughters. Belle sacrifices herself for her father and goes to the castle, discovering that the Beast is not so wild and inhuman as it seems.



Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále (I Served the King of England) 

Jirí Menzel (Czech Republic, 2006)

Language: Czech, German
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Czech director Jiri Menzel has worked only sporadically since making a splash in the 1960s with lauded features such as CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS. I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND is another welcome invitation to witness Menzel's singular vision, which is liberally sprinkled with homage to silent features, vaudeville, and slapstick. The film tells the story of Jan Dite, an ordinary Czech citizen who reflects on life after being released from jail. Much of the film is told in flashback, with Menzel transporting his audience back to Dite's younger days in Prague, both before and during World War II, where the young restaurant worker does whatever it takes to fulfill his dreams of becoming a millionaire. His reckless and frequently hilarious path to achieving his goal becomes the backbone of the movie, and Menzel deftly edits back and forth between the older and younger versions of Dite as his history is revealed. The younger version of Dite is played to excellent effect by Ivan Barnev, who manages to make the character extremely compelling. Barnev and Menzel even conspire to find humor in Dite's darkest hours, such as his marriage to a Nazi (played by Julia Jentsch) and his job in a Czech "breeding center" set up to produce Hitler youth. Food and sex become important parts of the storyline as Dite demonstrates his passion for both, and the rampant urges of his younger self are neatly tempered by Menzel's flash-forwards to the older version of the character (played by Oldrich Kaiser). Like CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS, this feature is an adaptation of a novel by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabel, and it's another hugely entertaining and utterly peerless piece of work from an inspired director. (

See also:

History of Christianity

(BBC, UK 2010)
Language: English
Subtitles: English, Chinese

Presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch – one of the world's leading historians and Professor of History of the Church at St Cross College Oxford, A History of Christianity considers the evolution of the Christian faith and its four main forms: Orthodoxy, Oriental Christianity, Western Catholicism and Protestantism.

In this fascinating series Professor MacCulloch explains how Christianity first spread east, extending into Syria, Central Asia, India and the Far East. He explores the extraordinary and unpredictable rise of the largest single body of Christian devotion in the world, the Roman Catholic Church, and reveals how confession was invented by monks in a remote island off the coast of Ireland. As the series progresses it charts Eastern Orthodox Christianity's fight for survival after its glory days in the eastern Roman Empire and looks at the Reformation and the rise of Protestantism as well as the evangelical revival and the American-led rise of Pentecostalism.

Part 6: God in the Dock

© H. Werner Hess 2011