Movie: The Reader
Michael Berg (David Kross) is a 15-year-old boy who meets the 36-year old Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet). An unlikely summer romance follows, with Michael reading to Hanna and lots and lots of lovemaking after reading. When Hanna leaves without a trace Michael is left puzzled and distraught. He goes on with his life until one day when he’s attending WWII trials as a law student, he’s shocked to find Hanna in the defender’s chair as a former SS officer.
We follow the trial for a good deal of the second half of the movie, and look on as Michael sits there in silence. What turns out to be the most important detail of the movie is the fact that Michael knows something about Hanna that nobody knows. This small but vital piece of information is in his hands and he’s the only one that could turn her fate. One thing is for sure: Hanna will not reveal the truth herself.
For me, movies are a great tool to provoke debate, to make one doubt previous viewpoints. The Reader does an excellent job on this. You’re invited to take on the role of Michael as he observes Hanna during the trials. What would you do if you were Michael? Same goes for Hanna: what would you do if you were her? There’s no easy way out. This is why you’ll be questioning complicated moral issues as the credits roll by. Personally I find it difficult to judge both Michael and Hanna for what they’ve done, or for what they didn’t do.
I’m not quite sure that this is the kind of movie worthy of an Oscar. Not that it’s not a job well done, but it’s a movie that serves very well for educational purposes in my opinion, much more so than some other post-war movies that I’ve seen. It shouldn’t be lowered to being just a film to entertain a jury audience. This is a very bleak and confronting story on an extremely human level, which will prove to be the best way to truly educate and inform future generations on consequences of war.