The Unknown Soldier (2007)

The Unknown Soldier




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Academy Award-nominated director Michael Verhoeven unearths the long-buried truth about Nazi Germany in this documentary exploring the Wehrmacht Exhibition - a controversial display consisting of personal letters, photographs, and film footage that implicate common foot soldiers in some of the most horrific atrocities ever committed against mankind. When most folks think of World War II, names like Hitler, Himmler, and Eichmann offer a comforting means of confining evil to a relative few: But … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Art House & International, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Michael Verhoeven
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 25, 2008
First Run Features

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Critic Reviews for The Unknown Soldier

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3)

Once the film gets mired in specifics, it begins to seem like any other Holocaust documentary and loses the sense of relevance and engagement with the now that at first makes it so intriguing.

Full Review… | October 19, 2007
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The film eventually becomes one long therapy session for the German nation as it struggles to understand how its brave and good soldiers could have done such bad, bad things.

Full Review… | September 18, 2007
Village Voice
Top Critic

As Verhoeven's film makes clear, many thousands of surviving German veterans, along with a disturbing quotient of their children and grandchildren, are much too eager to make excuses.

Full Review… | September 6, 2007
Top Critic

It is a painful but important subject, to be certain, but the film dilutes its own effectiveness by devolving into a collection of talking heads who often seem to be repeating each other.

Full Review… | September 13, 2007
Film Threat

Is such footage appropriate to the big-screen environment of the cinema?

Full Review… | September 10, 2007
Film Journal International

German director Michael Verhoeven returns to his country's Nazi past with this searing documentary about the aftershocks of a controversial museum exhibition that rattled the conscience of a nation.

Full Review… | September 7, 2007
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for The Unknown Soldier

At first, "The Unknown Soldier" may seem like just yet another Holocaust documentary. But director Michael Verhoeven finds a fresh angle in confronting Germany's odd relationship with its past, in not only exploring how the Nazis exploited anti-Semitism for genocide, but also focusing on two exhibitions in Munich and Berlin called the "War of Annihilation Exhibition" that examine the role of the average German soldier in the Holocaust which caused a great deal of controversy.(At the same time, there is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum(which you should check out if you get the chance) in Washington, DC, and Minsk is littered with memorials to the dead.) And the results are damning with evidence that includes archival footage and testimony from historians, victims and former soldiers. According to the film, the soldier's role could be passive or aggressive in aiding atrocities such as shooting prisoners of war or Jews(40% of Holocaust victims were shot) and perhaps also as logistical support for the SS. On the other hand, there are mentions made of soldiers and officers who disregarded such orders, sometimes with no punishment. Even with the evidence on hand, many people cannot comprehend how their fathers and grandfathers could be capable of such atrocities.(The documentary is subtitled, "What did you do in the war, dad?") It is no coincidence that none of the death camps were in Germany proper to keep the mass killings out of sight and mind of German citizens. The effects of these actions are felt in Germany down to the current day, allowing for the rise of right wing nationalist parties and anti-Semitism, leading to the bombing of a proposed Jewish center in Munich.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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