Director Robert Schwentke (The Time Traveler’s Wife, RED, Insurgent) returned to his native Germany to make this stunning black-and-white war movie, which follows a young German deserter as he tries to survive in the deadly final days of the Third Reich.
What relevance can a film set during the closing weeks of the Second World War have to today's world? Filmed in stunning black and white, The Captain captures the final act of the Third Reich as Hitler's dream falls completely into ruins. The downfall is the seen through the eyes of a young German soldier who, amidst the chaos, decides to desert. The farmland he traverses looks post-apocalyptic — largely abandoned save for small bands of soldiers, some of whom are also on the run. Each step, especially for a deserter, brings the possibility of certain doom.
Herold (Max Hubacher) is an enlisted man, a rank-and-file infantryman, but early on he comes across a captain's uniform while rifling through an abandoned military vehicle. Putting it on, he is transformed. Emboldened, he bluffs and swaggers through increasingly difficult situations. The uniform protects him. Some are suspicious, but the Captain manages to outfox everyone. Forming a task force from stragglers he meets along the way, Herold acquires more and more authority and dispenses harsh and arbitrary justice.
With this rambunctious and unsettling portrait of a man who, with mounting bluster, becomes intoxicated by his new-found (and unexpected) power, director Robert Schwentke has hit on a pertinent metaphor for much of what bewilders us as we watch politicians rise to power with the flimsiest of credentials.