It all began so harmlessly ... Sonja is a schoolgirl who enjoys the affection and respect of the whole community. Not without reason, for she belongs to one of the most prominent families in town. What is more, Sonja has won a European essay competition and is awarded the town's “Silver Medal” by the mayor. Now she is keen to take part in another essay competition, the subject of which is “My Home Town during the Third Reich”. She begins to search for facts but runs up against mistrust and reticence. The municipal archives are reluctant to release the desired documents, which makes it impossible for Sonja to enter her essay by the closing date. Years later, after having settled down with her own family in the community, Sonja turns up at the municipal archives again and demands access to the documents. She is no longer a child now, and she is not to be stopped in her determination to find out the truth concerning the history of the town. The town, however, has its own ways and means of silencing Sonja. A life and death struggle ensues.
Loosely based on the true story of Anja Rosmus, this movie deals with some fairly serious issues such as religion, politics, racism, sexuality and hypocrisy within the church. With that in mind you'd be forgiven for thinking this would be a depressing and possibly harrowing look at Nazism and anti-Semitism but this is not the case. Director Michael Verhoeven treats the subject matter with an air of hope and innocence that makes this a perfect example of a black comedy. The entire film has the feeling of a stage production enacted in a theatre with the backgrounds to many scenes being intentionally artificial. The story is told from the point of the lead character, Sonja (Lena Stolze -The White Rose) who in the present reflects on events in the past. Lena Stolze is definitely the star of this movie with all other cast members taking on a resounding 'supporting' role. She has the ability to portray both an innocent and yet strong and determined Sonja, with ease and complete believability to the point that you sometimes think you are watching a documentary. This movie is not for those who usually enjoy Hollywood Blockbusters, but if you're a fan of foreign films then this one is surprisingly watchable. Lena Stolze makes it so, as well as the unusual direction of Verhoeven.
This 1989 film The Nasty Girl (Das schreckliche Maedchen) was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe and won a Silver Bear in Berlin in 1990 as well as BAFTA Academy Award in 1992.
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