The Ninth Day

Watched this remarkable movie over the weekend and highly recommend it. Directed by Volker Schlöndorff and based on the life of Father Jean Bernard, the story concerns a priest who is given a nine day leave of absence from his imprisonment at Dachau. When he returns to his home in Luxembourg he learns that an S.S. officer named Gebhardt has found a way to put him to better use. During his absence his mother has died and his brother and sister have been evicted from their home, although their circumstances stand a chance of improving provided Kremer cooperates. The scenes of the cell block for priests at Dachau are brutal and the political intrigue surrounding Abbé Kremer’s temporary release shines a clear light on some of Nazis’ lesser known schemes. The intensity of Ulrich Matthes’ performance as Kremer is at times unnerving, and the searing look in his eyes remains long after the film is over (those wishing to see more can watch him as Joseph Goebbels in Der Untergang). August Diehl is also very good as Gebhardt, but the real credit goes to Schlöndorff and the writers Görner and Pflüger for such a well crafted story. The basic material notwithstanding, it is also extremely subtle. The full meaning of “the ninth day” is never explicitly mentioned in the movie iteself, and the exact nature of the relationship between Gebhardt and Kremer demands particularly close attention as the plot unfolds. Or unravels, as seems to be happening to each of the two characters by alternate turns. Well worth seeing.


  1. Jonathan Webb says

    I’ll see it! Thanks for the tip.

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