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13 Minutes - Film Review

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by Jenny Hatton Mahon (subscribe)
Weekends are about freedom, exploring and fun... and that's worth writing about.
Published July 15th 2015
How 13 Minutes Changed the Course of History

Had it not been for a 13 minutes change in schedule, this man would have changed the course of history.

Georg Elser was a carpenter, musician and something of a ladies man from a small town in rural Germany. He was also a self-taught bomb maker who meticulously planned and carried out an elaborate assassination attempt on 8 November 1939 at the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich.

The time bomb Elser had designed, made and placed near a speaking platform detonated as planned, killing eight people and injuring over sixty two others. However, it missed the target who had left the venue 13 minutes earlier than the scheduled departure time.

The target was Adolf Hitler.

This is a true story that is largely unknown. Unlike another would-be assassin at the time, Valkyrie (depicted by Tom Cruise in the movie of the same name), Georg Elser was a civilian man driven to activism after he witnessed the arrest of his communist friend, watched his village being taken over by Nazis and endured the mistreatment of the local Jewish families and those that stood by them.

This is a gritty, intense and often graphic story of Elser's interrogation and the inability of the Nazis and Gestapo to accept that Elser had acted alone. Elser's plan and the sophistication of his time bomb had the Nazis, Gestapo and Hitler certain that this was part of a bigger operation. But it was not. Elser was an ordinary man who committed an extraordinary act.

As the story unfolds, we can't help but wonder how history would have looked if Elser had succeeded. Had he killed Hitler, would Germans during that time have seen him as a hero or a terrorist? In retrospect, we can easily hail him a hero but during those times when the population was largely hoodwinked by Hitler and his henchmen, it's possible that his actions would have been condemned.

Flashbacks to Elser's earlier life and relationships, including his romance with local woman, Elsa, provide context to the story and exposes us to some of the driving forces that led Elser down this path.

This is a moving and meaningful historical drama well worth seeing but do so knowing that there are many moments of discomfort and unease, particularly with the depiction of Elser's interrogation which is explicit and raw.

This movie is not light-hearted entertainment but is one well worth seeing, especially for those who appreciate second world war biographical dramas that accurately depict the story with attention to historical detail and beautiful cinematography.

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*Jenny Hatton Mahon was invited as a guest
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Why? Because 13 minutes is all it take to change history
Where: Cinemas Australia wide
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