Sophie Scholl is a well-known figure in German history whose
efforts in the resistance movement during World War II led to her
execution. She was only 21 years old.

 While there have been a couple of feature films that have told
the story of Scholl and her work with the White Rose, this movie is
a little different as screenwriter Fred Breinersdorfer had access to
previously classified documents and transcripts of court proceedings
that had been in East German archives. These papers help to shed
a new light on a young woman who had the courage of her convictions.

 The film unfolds over the course of the last week in the life
of Sophie Scholl (beautifully portrayed by Julia Jentsch). With her
brother Hans (Fabian Hinrichs), she was caught distributing anti-Nazi
leaflets at Munich University in February 1943. When she was arrested,
Sophie was fully convinced she would be able to bluff her way out of
the situation, and she almost got away with it. While being
relentlessly questioned by Robert Mohr (Alexander Held), she maintains
that she is apolitical and has a circumstantial explanation for whatever
accusations he hurls. As her release is being processed though,
investigators who have searched the apartment she and her brother
shared return with damning evidence.

 Mohr clearly admires the young woman and offers her several
opportunities to save herself, but she steadfastly refuses special
treatment. She is incarcerated with Else (Johanna Gatsdorf), a
Communist who offers sympathy and kindness.

 When Sophia and her brother Hans are brought to trial, along
with a third defendent Christoph Probst (Florian Stetter), they must
face the overbearing judge Robert Freisler (André Hennicke). Anyone
who feels Hennicke is overacting should check out the footage of
Freisler on the DVD; calm is not a word that could be applied to the

 Jentsch doesn't make Sophie into a plaster saint. Instead,
she delivers a nuanced portrait of a young woman who is assured of
her convictions and has the resolute will to stick by them, even
when it means certain death. There's one touching scene when she
says a final goodbye to her elderly parents that is heartbreaking.
SOPHIE SCHOLL: THE FINAL DAYS is a terrific portrait of a
young woman who exuded courage under the most grueling
circumstances. Marc Rothemund has directed the film with a
slightly detached air that only serves to enhance the horror.

         Rating:                B+
         MPAA Rating:        NONE
         Running time:       117 mins.

         Viewed on DVD; the commercial DVD contains several
extras including interviews with relatives of some of those portrayed
in the film, including one with Hans and Sophie's younger sister.
There are also deleted and extended scenes and a behind the scenes
making of documentary.
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
(Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage)
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.