Imagine the perfect, idyllic childhood: all your needs and whims met by adoring parents; parents you strove to emulate, please, desiring only to meet or surpass their expectations; then as an adult discovering that they were complicit in the most horrific, catastrophic crime visited on humanity since its birth. This moral dilemma is addressed succinctly, passionately, without platitudes or obfuscations in “Labyrinth of Lies” , directed by Giulio Ricciarelli; based on a true story and Germany’s Academy Award submission.
Frankfurt, Germany in the late 1950’s-early 60’; idealistic, naive public prosecutor “Johann Radmann” (imperially lean and handsome Alexander Fehling; you might remember him from “Inglorious Basterds”, as “Staff Sergeant Wilhelm”) is alarmed when notified that a past Nazi guard from Auschwitz is teaching children in the primary grades; his idealism leads him down a path of mind-boggling revelation; stunned that the general populace had never heard of Auschwitz; searching for survivors to testify to the slaughter of millions; culpability of those in government; layers of innocence peeled as he painstakingly plows through the damming records, the meticulous Germans left behind; his epiphany is bitter, his resolve falters, but ultimately undeterred, his quest leads to the illumination of the perpetrators; hidden malfeasants brought to light.
Johannes Kirsch, as reticent Jewish survivor, “Simon Kirsch” is hauntingly compelling as he describes his entry into Auschwitz with his wife and twin daughters; Joseph Mengele, a maniacal, subhuman doctor performed demonic, iniquitous experiments on twins.
The innocuous culprits in “Labyrinth of Lies” recalls Hannah Arndt’s evaluation: “the sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil” also applicable is Edmond Burke’s : “the only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Johann Radmann was a good man.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS!!!!