Did you know that there were as many as 42 attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler carried out by German resistance fighters? Sadly though, they all failed. In most cases due to a spontaneous change of plan. Such as Hitler leaving 13 minutes earlier than he had originally planned to stay for a speech at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich. This is where the carpenter Georg Elser had hidden a bomb in a wooden panel. And this was as early as November 1939. Here is the story of an "ordinary man trying to save a nation"…
13 Minutes (OT: Elser – Er hätte die Welt verändert) brings the story of carpenter Georg Elser (Christian Friedel) to life in a great and very powerful way. The film starts on the evening of the attack. After attempting to cross the border into Switzerland, Elser is arrested and consequently tortured because he won't reveal the names of his conspirators. As we learn later on, this is because there were, in fact, no conspirators.
"That Hitler is bad for Germany"
The film then tells Elser's life story through various flashbacks that take place in his rural home village Königsbronn in Baden-Wuertemberg. These show him as a bit of a womanizer. He gets a girl pregnant, but then doesn't take responsibility and leaves her. But the village scenes also give a good impression of how people were affected in daily life by the totalitarian dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. Seeing the increasing injustice first hand, Elser starts to realize that only by killing Hitler now, “an even bigger bloodshed” could be avoided in the future…
13 Minutes was not shot at original sites. Instead, the film locations included the town hall of the Schöneberg locality in Berlin, the Bavarian village of Weidenberg, the town of Lindau at Lake Constance and the Open Air Museum Hohenslohe Wackershofen in Baden-Wuertemberg.
Moreover, many outdoor scenes feature the beautiful mountain backdrop of South Tyrol in Italy (Bolzano, Terlan, Auer and Mendelpass).
Georg Elser was brought to the Dachau concentration camp and shot on 9th of April 1945 – just 20 days before the camp was liberated…
I thought that even though I thought that the pace of the film was a bit slow here and there, it’s important to remember those brave German resistance fighters. Therefore, this film is a definite must-see!
My final verdict: We will never know. But perhaps, if all had worked out, Elser would have changed the world… back then in 1939. All in all, a gripping biopic about a very courageous man!
**** 4 out of 5 stars
13 Minutes is now available with English subtitles on DVD and Blu-ray as well as for streaming on Amazon Prime.