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The Unknown Soldier - documentary DVD review
THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Hannes Heer, Dieter Pohl, Myriam Y. Arani
Director: Michael Verhoeven   Distributor: First Run Features
DVD release: 25 March 2008   Runtime: 97 min. (1 disc)
Format: Black & White, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Languages (Dolby Digital Stereo - German), Subtitles (English), Archival photo gallery, Director bio, WWII film trailer gallery

Michael Verhoeven's The Unknown Soldier takes an angle on the Second World War and dissects it somewhat messily. The theory is sound: quite a few German infantry soldiers did some terrible things and had a hand in the Holocaust. It has been supposed (I suppose) that it was only the SS that was carrying out these atrocities. The Unknown Soldier shows us more pictures of the horrors, this time with smiling German infantrymen posing next to them. The data is good and interesting, but the execution is somewhat less organized than I would prefer.

What is more interesting to me is the current climate that surrounds this issue in Germany. The skinheads want to embrace the evidence. The public at large wants to forget it and trembles breathlessly, hoping their grandfathers' hands were clean. Some of these people refuse to admit that any infantry at all had anything to do with these evils. I'm not so sure that it's important to set the record straight. Wartime is the kind of thing that nobody has a taste for after a while. Once it's done, we tend to forget the horrors. We need to forget the horrors. At odds with this tendency is the likelihood that we're doomed to repeat these events if we forget.

The skinheads, I don't understand. We see some of their gatherings in this film. None of the individuals are allowed to give interviews; none of the authorities of their ranks will talk to the filmmakers.

It's not a bad film, but perhaps it's more provocative and informative in Germany. I can easily accept the film's premise. My grandfather is not under the microscope. Also, my country has been at war for a number a years now, and I'm sick to death of it.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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