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Sophie Scholl — The Final Days (German 2005)

31 March, 2008

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This is the story of one of Germany’s courageous anti-Nazi resistance groups. It focuses on the last 6 days of a young German woman, named Sophie Scholl. Led by her brother, Sophie and others (members of what was called the “White Rose”) distributed leaflets amongst university students in Munich and other German cities urging the German people to protest against the regime — calling Germans to stand up for what is true and right. While Sophie, her brother and another compatriot were executed under charges of ‘high treason’ and other members of this student group were imprisoned, the effects of their leafleting were felt throughout Germany. There was a German resistance movement!

Sophie Scholl — The final days was nominated in 2005 for an Academy Award. The lead role is magnificently portrayed by Julia Jentsch, who alone is worth watching in this film were it not for the excellent acting of the others — notably the Gestapo officer who tries in vain to convince Sophie to capitulate.

What was a moving surprise to me is the patently obvious Christian conviction of Sophie and her parents. In fact, while Sophie and the others had their feet firmly planted in the “here and now” of this broken, fallen (and at their moment of history) wicked world, Sophie’s hope and confidence — repeatedly evidenced in the film — is in the kingdom of God and the mercy of God. In fact knowing that her daughter would be executed imminently Sophie’s mother tells her, “Remember Jesus.” To which she responds, “You, also, Mother.” Sophie’s father dares to cry out to the courtroom in which his daughter and son were to be condemned, “There is a higher justice”, leaving no one in doubt as to whose court he was referring!

A crucial aspect of Christian discipleship is “making the good confession”. This remarkably moving film points to this calling and to the rightness of this calling. Many contemporary Christians, living in China, North Korea, parts of the Arab world, as well as other areas are doing just that — making a good confession. This discipleship is not some “escapist” mindset: it impacts the here and now precisely because of the reality of the coming future. Would that more of us in the West lived this way and, should the need come to us, die this way.

While the Christian conviction of Sophie is not the point of the film, the director treats this central feature with respect and consideration, I think.  There is absolutely no secular “whitewash” of her faith.  In this respect, we see that resistance against evil, injustice and the suppression of conscience with lies is never in vain.  Sophie Scholl demonstrated that it is precisely because of the God to whom she committed her life that there  is a reason for resistance.

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