The Captain

In war as in peace, the clothes make the monster.

The Captain. Courtesy of TIFF

For as much as you hear about identity theft these days, it’s easy to forget that identities were much easier to steal back when you basically had to take the other person’s word for it. In Robert Schwentke’s The Captain, Willi Herold (Max Hubacher) is a young German soldier who deserts his unit two weeks before the end of World War II — though he doesn’t know that — and stumbles upon a dead captain’s uniform. He begins passing himself off as an officer working on direct orders from Hitler himself, since it’s not like anyone can Google him, and the bunkered Fuhrer himself wasn’t especially accessible in April 1945.

As it must, the power granted by the uniform corrupts Herold in no short order, and with his Baldrickian lackey Pvt. Freytag (Milan Peschel) in tow, Herold eventually takes over a prison camp and commits countless atrocities on other, less lucky deserters. Shot in glorious black-and-white, The Captain is based on a true story, though it doesn’t inform us of that until a fourth-wall-shattering moment in the third act. The picture proceeds with the inevitability of a folktale or a Shakespeare tragedy, although both of those forms ignore what we now know: White men are forgiven sooner rather than later. Welcome to Task Force, Herold.

Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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