Chances are that you’ve heard of German director Oliver Hirschbiegel from one of two places: either from his remarkable (and horribly depressing) story of Hitler’s last days in the film Downfall, or his ill-conceived and lambasted biopic Diana. Departing once more from his foray into the British Royal Family, Hirschbiegel has now set his sights on returning to World War II, as he plans to direct the film Georg Elser, a true story about Adolf Hitler’s would-be assassin.
Georg Elser’s story is not a happy one. He was a resistance fighter who planned to kill Hitler on November 8, 1939, during a speech the Nazi leader was giving for the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Elser misjudged his timing, however, and the bomb placed in the lectern ended up going off a full thirteen minutes after Hitler had left, instead killing eight other people. Elser was captured, interrogated, tortured, and eventually sent to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was executed only a few days before the end of the war in 1945. Georg Elser will cover the attempted assassin’s progress from the Swabian Alps to his final days at Dachau, in what is sure to be a laugh riot.
Anyone who has seen Downfall knows what to expect from Georg Elser. This is going to be a dark, depressing, and probably triumph-less film that will nevertheless stick with you for years to come. At least, I certainly hope that’s what will happen, as Hirschbiegel has proven himself a good director when he really dedicates himself to his story. Christian Friedel (The White Ribbon) will star as Elser, with Katharina Schüttler (Generation War) as his companion.
Hirschbiegel is also currently prepping another war story, this one from World War I, called The Guns of August, set to star Helena Bonham Carter and Charles Dance. He was shopping that one at Cannes this year, so we can expect to hear more about it and Georg Elser before long.