Before the Fall

Dennis Gansel's disturbing feature Before the Fall explores a little-known detail of the Nazi horror: the recruitment of more than 15,000 young men (and some girls) into elite training schools called "Napolas," where they were groomed as athletes, soldiers and "ideologically correct" scholars. "These youths," Adolf Hitler proclaimed in 1938, "will learn to think German and to act German -- and nothing else." Set in 1942, when the military fortunes of the Third Reich began to go south, the film focuses on a promising young boxer, Friedrich Weimer (Max Riemelt), who has a taste for real violence in the ring, and on his friend Albrecht Stein (Tom Schilling), whose sensitivity contradicts the regime's obsession with Aryan supermen. Trained to be a soulless killer, Friedrich nonetheless experiences a crisis of conscience, and this fascinating moral drama turns its attention to the battle for his soul.

Before the Fall opens Friday, December 30, for a one-week run at the Starz FilmCenter in the Tivoli building, 900 Auraria Parkway. For information, call 303-820-3456.

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