ALONE IN BERLIN is another in a long line of sad WWII movies. It stars four actors who guarantee my ticket is purchased based on their name and talent alone. It is based on Every Man Dies Alone or Alone in Berlin (German: Jeder stirbt für sich allein), a 1947 novel by German author Hans Fallada. Alone in Berlin (book) is one of the first anti-Nazi books published by a German following the end of the war. It releases this Thur March 2nd in Australia from Icon Film. It is rated M and runs for 103mins.


Alone in Berlin Brendon Gleeson and Emma Thompson image




Hans Fallada’s ALONE IN BERLIN story is based on a true story of a loving working class German family. The husband and wife receive news that their only son is killed during the war as it draws close to an end. The Nazi propaganda machine is in full swing advising everyone how well the war effort is going but Otto Quangel believes the Nazis are basically full of shit. He is angered, sad, and in a terrible state of his own personal grief at the loss of his son, as is his wife.

He gets it into his mind to start his own propaganda against the Nazis and clumsily writes anti-Nazi messages on postcards then drops them all over the city. Saying anything against the fuhrer or the political party was a capital offence. Otto and his wife became part of the German Resistance while all alone and surrounded in Berlin.


Alone in Berlin Brendon Gleeson image



ALONE IN BERLIN is about a family’s grief and one man’s basic big finger to the war movement. He is so overwhelmed by grief and anger he starts his own crusade against the Nazis. It is a small but deadly crusade and it really did happen. That is great and commendations for any effort agains tyranny but the problem for me is that it achieved nothing. It stood by truth and the right path but the the majority of their hundreds of postcards were turned in. If memory serves me correct the Nazis were handed all but 18 of the postcards. I would assume most of these would have been destroyed.

The only person who reads them all was Escherich (Daniel Brühl), the Nazi charged with finding and killing the postcard writers. I am most certain his character in the movie is heavily fictionalised for dramatic effect. As such their mission against the Nazis was pointless and misdirected grief, giving them nothing but more tragedy. I am nothing but sad for them, they did not deserve their outcome. But enough is enough and the loss of a child can lead people to unimaginable paths. I also had some issues with Escherich, it appears like the most difficult thing to do catch Otto in the movie. I am just dumbfounded there weren’t enquiries with people selling postcards. It wasn’t as if Otto was a criminal mastermind!


Alone in Berlin Emma Thompson image



There is one saving grace for this movie. Without the talent of the cast I probably would have walked out of this screening. Sure, it is heartbreaking, but nothing truly epic happens, it’s climax is anticlimactic and again nothing is achieved. But the cast are mesmerising as usual. Brendon Gleeson’s performance is sublime and marvellously underplayed. Emma Thompson is one of my all time favourite actors who I could watch reading ingredients lists and still give her awards. And Daniel Brühl makes me uncomfortable as he always does. Uncomfortable is good, he is this small man with a scary internal power that unnerves me. That takes skill.

And one character I have to slip a mention in for. Louis Hofmann as Hans Quangel. Hans dies in the opening five minutes of the movie and is the son to Otto and Anna. I squealed when I recognised the actor, one of my favourite of the moment who makes his English language speaking movie debut and doesn’t have lines. Haha. I also recognised him dead lying on his side. He is the star of LAND OF MINE, my Number 4 movie of 2016 and it just missed the Oscar yesterday for Best Foreign Picture. He also stars in CENTER OF MY WORLD screening at the Mardi Gras Film Festival at the moment. Click the links to read my reviews of these two fine movies.


Alone in Berlin Daniel Brühl image



ALONE IN BERLIN moves at a snail’s pace and while a sad story of grief that pains the heart the movie didn’t need to be made. The one saving grace for the movie is the top shelf acting talents of its cast. Oh, and the beautiful score from Alexandre Desplat. This could do well with senior citizens who, like me, have abundant love for the cast.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan.  ** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.