'Final Account' review: A Bleak Window To The Past
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'Final Account' review: A Bleak Window To The Past

The documentary delves into stories from the last remaining German citizens, Hitler Youth graduates and veterans who experienced Hitler's Third Reich

An elderly woman stands near a window with curtains open, overlooking a town in Germany. She is one of many individuals who offer first-hand accounts of living in Germany during Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.
Courtesy of Focus Features LLC

It's scary to see time passing by. Personal accounts of significant historical events have the chance to be lost forever with each generation's death.

In 2008, director Luke Holland began filming interviews with numerous elderly Germans citizens, former SS members and Hitler Youth graduates to pursue a passion project. Holland wants to keep history alive and preserve these accounts for future generations. Those who spoke on camera share what they "witnessed" in this documentary called "Final Account."

FINAL ACCOUNT - Official Trailer [HD] - In Theaters May 21www.youtube.com

The film, which premieres after Holland's death from cancer in 2020, starts strong with a disturbing song. It sets the precedent that some of these witnesses didn't realize how effectively national propaganda seeped into their culture and personal lives.

And when asked about their knowledge of the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, most undermine the roles they played under Hitler's power. Most of the accounts didn't share new memories; the horrific accounts are standard when talking about this blemish in world history. But there were a couple of fascinating characters that make the film worth a watch.

A veteran Waffen S.S. member is one of the only interviewees with genuine remorse over his past actions. In fact, an entire documentary about him would be interesting. He describes his youthful excitement to join the party against his father's wishes. In a later scene that should've been longer, he firmly leaves a warning to a classroom of anti-immigrant German teenagers: "Don't let yourself be blinded."

A former resident who lived near a concentration camp mentions that doctors treating the village residents are prisoners from the camp, but they were "friendly." Besides leaving perplexing unanswered questions, it disturbingly proves that some people didn't see grotesque faults in their surroundings.

But in one shocking interview to trump them all, a former personal bodyguard of Hitler's openly admits that he still honors Hitler. The film has a lot of reasons to feel bleak about what the future may learn from this treasure trove of varying accounts, but none as disheartening as this man's lack of regret.

If there is any message to "Final Account," it's that war is ugly. It's easy to be judge and jury of these witnesses from the safety of a world without World War II, but at the same time it's a lot to ask of casual viewers to absorb these varying accounts to examine at face value.

Score: 7/10

"Final Account" is in theaters on Friday, May 21.

Follow the reporter on Twitter at @s_incorvaia.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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