In terms of dramatic potential, it seems like filmmakers will never exhaust all of the captivating, tragic, heartbreaking stories presented by the second world war. Case in point is 2018’s The Captain, which looks to mine a largely forgotten story of mistaken identity and sadism into one of this year’s most interesting-looking dramas. The just-released trailer for the Robert Schwentke-directed film immediately makes it one we’ll be keeping an eye out for during its July 27 limited release window.
The Captain is based on the true story of German soldier Paul “Willi” Herold, an enlisted grunt who, in the closing days of WWII came upon a Luftwaffe captain’s uniform, which he used to steal the other man’s identity, pretending to be an officer. Putting together a squad of similarly lost and separated enlisted men, who believed in the indentity and authority of their “captain” without fail, Herold commandeered several prison camps near the end of the war and was responsible for the committing of numerous murders and atrocities, which earned him the nickname “the Executioner of Emsland.” He was eventually discovered by German high command and then imprisoned, but was improbably released by accident in the chaos of the war’s final days. Herold was then eventually arrested by the British in the days following the war, before being tried and executed for war crimes in 1946.
The Captain looks to delve into the psyche of such a man, in such turbulent, brutal times, and perhaps unearth some small kernel of how such a sequence of events could happen. At stake is obviously the nature of authority, and the fruitless defensive scheme of claiming “I was only following orders.” In particular, though, it’s the trailer’s sparkling cinematography that has us particularly excited—stark, high-resolution black and white images that are immediately arresting. It’s almost impossible to believe that this film is coming from Robert Schwentke, the guy who directed R.I.P.D. and several of the Divergent movies, but stranger things have happened.
Check out the beautiful trailer for The Captain below, and keep an eye out for it in limited release at the end of July.