Downfall Helmer Returns to WWII

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel, best known for his Oscar nominated biopic Der Untergang (aka Downfall) chronicling the final days of Adolf Hitler, is returning to Germany after 10 years to helm another World War 2 flick, though this time centered on the other side.

The film, simply titled Elser, was co-penned by Oscar nominated screenwriter Fred Breinersdorfer (Sophie Scholl: The Final Days) and his daughter Léonie-Claire. It will follow German carpenter Johann Georg Elser’s November 1939 attempt to assassinate Hitler. Find out more after the jump.

The Hollywood Reporter explains that Elser planted a homemade bomb at Munich’s Burgerbraukeller ahead of an anniversary speech which killed 8 people…but Hitler had left 13 minutes before. Elsner was then arrested trying to get into Switzerland and was sent to a concentration camp where he was killed on Hitler’s orders in 1945, just a few days before the end of the war. Had Elsner succeeded, we could be living in a very different world right now.

The story has already been told a couple of times on film, notably in the very good Seven Minutes directed by actor Klaus Maria Brandauer who also starred as Elser in 1989 (picture above). A 1969 German TV film on the subject was also made.

Elsner is expected to release sometime next year and will star Christian Friedel (Amour Fou) in the title role, Katharina Schuttler (Oh Boy) as his unsuspecting girlfriend Elsa, Burghart Klaussner (The White Ribbon) as the head of the Nazi’s criminal police and Johann von Bulow (The Stranger in Me) as Gestapo head Heinrich Müller.

Hirschbiegel has specialized in period pieces since Downfall, having gone on to direct films such as Five Minutes of Heaven and the underrated Diana as well as epsiodes of Tom Fontana’s Borgia and Craig Silverstein’s Turn. This will mark his first German film since 2005’s Just an Ordinary Jew.

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