True stories have long been a staple of filmmaking, sometimes that which is true is more fascinating than fiction. Many of film histories greatest true stories have come from the times the world has seen war. But sometimes it is the story of what comes after the war that can be just as shocking. Labyrinth of Lies is a German film that takes on a controversial period in German history.
Thirteen years after World War II the Federal Republic of Germany is not only recovering from the war but doing very well. Journalist Thomas Gnielka (André Szymanski) is not so sure though after recognizing a local teacher as a former commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The authorities have no interest in Gnielka’s story though until a young prosecutor named Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) decides to take on the case and not only find justice for Gnielka but attempts to bring all former Nazi’s to justice. But in a country that prefers to forget that may be a bigger challenge than expected.
Labyrinth of Lies is an extraordinary film in more ways than one. The true story is an unbelievable one. That the majority of the public in 1958 Germany would not even know what Auschwitz was is unfathomable. And that so many Nazi’s of all ranks just walked away from the war and continued their lives as if nothing happened is even more incredible. Director and co-writer Giulio Ricciarelli crafts a fast paced and tense legal thriller that keeps you guessing how far it will go. Alexander Fehling, the actor portraying the lawyer, is just phenomenal in Labyrinth of Lies. This is an extraordinary performance that should have garnered much more attention. Fehling has an undeniable screen presence and although American productions have taken notice of him, he was in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds as well as had a recurring role on Homeland, this is someone filmmakers should be pursuing for bigger roles. Labyrinth of Lies is a fascinating and sometimes disturbing look at a country in the aftermath of one of the biggest wars in history, but on the side we rarely hear about. Highly recommended.