The People vs. Fritz Bauer

Movie Information

In Brief: Before you roll your eyes over "yet another movie about Nazi hunters," you should know that this third film in the 2016 Asheville Jewish Film Festival is something very different. The People vs. Fritz Bauer (2015) is a fact-based work about the machinery behind both protecting and capturing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. But it is probably not at all the film you expect it to be from that statement. This movie, set in 1957, is much more than that suggests. It is, in fact, the most densely layered film I have ever seen on this kind of topic. It's not just about the hunt; it's about the time in which it occurs. It's about a Jewish prosecutor, Fritz Bauer (Burghart Klaussner), with secrets and issues of his own, as well as about a government still riddled with Nazi holdovers, a society that has yet to face up to the reality of Germany in WWII, etc. It tackles all these topics — and some I haven't mentioned, such as German law in 1957 still clinging to Nazi edicts. (It's interesting that the actual German title is The State vs. Fritz Bauer.) This is a heady stew reminiscent of espionage movies of the time in which it takes place and beautifully held together by the central performances of Klaussner and Ronald Zehrfeld (as his young assistant). If you see nothing else in this year's festival, try to make room for this.
Genre: Fact-based Drama
Director: Lars Kraume
Starring: Burghart Klaussner, Ronald Zehrfeld, Robert Atzorn, Lilith Stangenberg, Jörg Schüttauf
Rated: NR

The Fine Arts Theatre will show The People vs. Fritz Bauer Thursday, May 12, at 7 p.m., with an encore showing Friday, May 13, at 1 p.m.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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