Fatherland

Tagged: Film

Made-for-tv film (1994). Home Box Office. Produced by Frederick Muller and Ilene Kahn, directed by Christopher Menaul, screenplay Stanley Weiser and Ron Hutchinson, based on the novel Fatherland (1992) by Robert Harris. Cast includes Rutger Hauer and Miranda Richardson. 106 minutes. Colour.

The year is 1964, the place Berlin, in an Alternate History in which Hitler Wins the Second World War. The USA, which stayed out of the war against Germany and is now led by President Joseph Kennedy senior, is holding talks about detente with Adolf Hitler on the day of Hitler's 75th birthday, 20 April. Hitler needs American friendship, because Germania's [sic] guerrilla war with Russia (still led by Stalin) is dragging on. The SS now act as a police force. SS officer March (Hauer) and German-born American journalist Charlie (Richardson) have separately stumbled across a series of murders designed to keep a dreadful wartime secret concealed, and after a time they work together to solve the mystery, in constant danger from the virulent Gestapo. The secret turns out to be the Holocaust. If the mass murder of the Jews (and Gypsies) is revealed, detente will crumble. Apart from the fundamental (and perhaps tasteless) absurdity of the film supposing that so abominable a happening, known to many thousands, should have remained a secret for more than twenty years, this is a well-staged and well-performed political thriller, interesting in its examination of the ways in which a police state can contrive to show the world an apparently acceptable face. The film was shot in Prague. [PN]

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