The Captain is available to stream or buy on all major platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, from 4th September.
The year is 1945, and the end of the Second World War in Europe is just months away as the German war machine slowly collapses into chaos. Despite it being April, the landscape is still gripped by winter, the trees bare, and the ground muddy and wet. Suddenly a young man comes into view, running for his life in ragged clothes, his face smeared with blood and dirt. As he looks behind him, the hum of a vehicle engine and shriek of trumpets hunt him down, hot bullets flying over his head as his comrades eagerly attempt to end his life by any means possible. The young man running is Willi Herold, a German private desperately trying to evade death, and the forest is about to offer him the cover he needs to escape.
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So starts writer/director Robert Schwentke’s journey into the horrors surrounding the end of the war in Germany and the opportunistic freedom it provided one young man. This is the true-life story of young Willi Herold. Having escaped the soldiers hunting him, Willi seeks the safety of bombed-out buildings while looting local farms for eggs, chicken and bread. But as he walks across the desolate and cold landscape, an abandoned car sparks his interest. As Willi searches the vehicle for nourishment, he finds a neatly packed suitcase containing a German captain’s uniform, shirt, underclothes and boots.
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Realising the potential these clothes offer, Willi quickly discards his torn army clothes for the pristine officer’s outfit that fits reasonably well despite the trousers being slightly too long. However, if clothes truly make the man, Willi’s personality is also about to shift as he adopts the title, Captain Herold.
The story that unfolds is stark, relentless and horrific as the muddy fields and lawless towns of Germany slowly descend into madness. Here the vice-like grip of Hitler’s Third Reich is gradually fading, only to be replaced by lynch mobs and cold-hearted generals. But, within the horror of twisted morality, power and corruption, The Captain truly hits its mark as it shines a light on the depths to which humans will sink in retaining control and freedom. Here Willi’s Captain Herold is an emperor in new clothes who laps up the power his outfit offers with devilish glee.
Shot in black and white, the cinematography of Florian Ballhaus reflects the lawless wild-west of a war-torn country descending into madness. Here local people and Nazi officers understand the end of War is nye but equally seek the security it offered as a young sociopath runs free of any control. The Captain is a horrifying tale of one man’s ability to deceive and control, as prey becomes predator in achieving brief but toxic notoriety.
Director: Robert Schwentke