SIFF 2024: Before it Ends (***)

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 11, 2024)

In April 1945, the Allies were closing in on Berlin, signaling the imminent demise of the Third Reich. But for the citizens of Nazi-occupied European nations, the trauma was far from over. Anders Walter’s drama is set in a Danish village on the Island of Funen, still in the grip of its German occupiers. When a trainload of German refugees pulls into town, the Nazi commandant orders the local headmaster (the always wonderful Pilou Asbæk) to house them at his school. An outbreak of diphtheria among the refugees, coupled with widening divisions between the locals has the headmaster facing a dilemma: if he shows compassion toward the suffering German civilians, does that make him a “collaborator”? A well-acted examination of the moral quandaries faced by everyday non-combatants who get caught in the crossfire of (any) war, reminiscent of the excellent TV series A French Village.

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