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Colonia Dignidad

Colonia Dignidad

Deutschland/Luxemburg/Frankreich 2015 - with Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist, Vicky Krieps ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Genre:Drama, Thriller
Direction:Florian Gallenberger
Cinema release:18.02.2016
Production country:Deutschland/Luxemburg/Frankreich 2015
Running time:Approx. 110 min.
Rated:From 16 years

Chile in September 1973: Actually, the young stewardess Lena (Emma Watson) wanted to use her stay in Santiago to spend a few romantic hours with her boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Brühl), who lives here as a photographer. However, the city is in turmoil as General Pinochet coups his way to power against President Salvador Allende. When Daniel tries to document the events with his camera, he and Lena are arrested. Although Lena is released after a few hours, Daniel is taken to an unknown location. His desperate girlfriend tries everything to find out where he was taken. But her efforts fall on deaf ears. Only at Amnesty International does she learn that Daniel was probably taken to Colonia Dignidad, a German sect in southern Chile. The sect is said to have close ties to the secret service. Therefore, Lena cannot expect help from the embassy. So she has only one choice: she must sneak into Colonia Dignidad and free Daniel herself. But in doing so, she puts herself in mortal danger.

You may find it hard to believe that Colonia Dignidad is actually based on true background. True, the story of Lena and Daniel is pure fiction. But the hermetically sealed camp some 300 kilometres south of Santiago de Chile, where German lay preacher Paul Schäfer (portrayed in the film by Michael Nyqvist) carried out his reign of terror for almost four decades, really existed. It was founded in 1961 under the guise of a charitable association for Chile's rural population before rising to enormous economic power and eventually being used by Pinochet's secret service as a torture camp and production facility for weapons and poison gas. One could probably make several full-length feature films and documentaries about Schäfer's connection to Pinochet's secret service, as well as to the German government. But director Florian Gallenberger (John Rabe) has used the shocking conditions in the camp as a backdrop for a much more intimate, but enormously gripping thriller-drama.

This has enabled him to establish an underlying atmosphere of menace that lasts throughout the film, and which gives even the quieter scenes plenty of tension. In its best moments, the thriller is stirring and disturbing, makes you angry and makes you extremely sympathetic to the two main characters. And by the end, if you don't already have some prior knowledge, you're dying to know more about how much reality there is to the events at Colonia Dignidad shown here. In any case, Gallenberger was very concerned with authenticity. Thus, he not only traveled to the camp in Chile, but also spoke with some of Schäfer's former supporters. In addition, his set decorators and set designers did a great job of believably bringing the early 1970s to the screen.

The actors also deliver very good performances. Michael Nyqvist plays the cult leader with an almost frightening mix of intensity, arrogance and emotional indifference. Emma Watson has not only matured into a young woman, but also into an actress to be taken seriously, at the latest. And Daniel Brühl is able to prove once again why international filmmakers are also clamouring for him. Although the strong actors and the gripping atmosphere can't prevent that there are some small lengths in the middle part of the film. But all in all, Colonia Dignidad is a really strong thriller, whose background will keep you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled. And for this there is then also a deserved: Absolutely worth seeing!

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


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Cinema trailer for the movie "Colonia Dignidad (Deutschland/Luxemburg/Frankreich 2015)"
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