Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:21 PM
The Reader (2008)
In director Stephen Daldry's Holocaust love story, adapted by David Hare from Bernhard Schlink's neo-classic novel, the film flashbacked to the summer of 1958 when 15 year-old virginal German schoolboy named Michael Berg (David Kross, and Ralph Fiennes as an adult) engaged in an erotic, passionate and secret summer-time affair with beautiful, hard-working, uneducated, repressed 36 year-old tram conductor Hanna Schmitz (Oscar-winning Kate Winslet); they had sex on a regular basis, after which he would read literature outloud to her (The Odyssey, Huckleberry Finn, The Lady with the Little Dog, War and Peace, and Lady Chatterley's Lover); his life was forever changed by the relationship; as a law student in 1966 in Heidelberg, he witnessed Hanna's Nazi war-crimes trial for being an SS guard at a satellite of Auschwitz near Cracow during the war; the trial revealed that Hanna had the weak and sickly women also read to her outloud before they were sent to the gas chambers; she admitted, falsely to the judge (to conceal her embarrassment about being illiterate), that she had written the report about the deaths of 300 trapped prisoners in a locked church fire; unlike five other female scapegoating defendants who were sentenced to a few years in prison, she was sentenced to life imprisonment; in 1988 after almost twenty years in prison, Hanna was to be paroled in one week, and Michael saw her during a poignant, painful prison visit for the first time in decades during which there was no real physical contact; he had been sending her audio cassette tape recordings of his readings of her favorite books (and she had painstakingly taught herself how to read and write), fulfilling his role as "The Reader," without any other kind of correspondence or replies to her letters; she told him: "You've grown up, kid"; he detailed how he had made arrangements for a job and apartment for her after her release; he also revealed how his own brief marriage hadn't lasted and then asked: "Have you spent a lot of time thinking about the past?" - she asked: "You mean with you?"; he responded: "No, no, I didn't mean with me"; she told him about her thoughts of the past: "It doesn't matter what I feel. It doesn't matter what I think. The dead are still dead"; he replied: "I wasn't sure what you'd learned"; she responded: "Well, I have learned, kid. I've learned to read"; when he came back a week later to pick her up, he sadly learned that she had committed suicide in her room - she had stacked up library books on a table (including copies of War and Peace and The Odyssey) before standing on them and hanging herself (off-screen); as he visited her cell, he was told: "She didn't pack. She never intended to leave"; in her 'will,' she had written: "tell Michael I said hello," causing him to sob uncontrollably; in the film's final scene in a steady rain, Michael took his grown-up daughter Julia (Hannah Herzsprung) to visit Hanna's grave in a church graveyard (where they had taken a bike ride when he was 15), as she asked: "Who was she?"; the film ended with them walking slowly away from the grave, with his voice-over: "I was 15. I was coming home from school. I was feeling ill. And a woman helped me"