Stefan Roloff grafts experimental animation atop a DV portrait of the largest German anti-Nazi resistance unit. Without becoming maudlin or confessional, talking-head testimonies by former Orchestra members and their children recount just how heroic the group’s treasonous flyers, broadcasts to Russia, and meeting with U.S. agents really were (curiously, the film never lets on that one of the oldest interviewees is the director’s father). Re-enactments are put through a filter that resembles a messy moving chalkboard (or the negative of a-ha’s “Take on Me” video), and stock footage is just so much grist for Roloff’s mill—he dissolves a burning Reichstag into a preening boy on his knees into a Brueghelian crowd, toning everything sepia and changing speeds to boot. Worth sticking around for: the triumphant end credit sequence of each Red Orchestra mug shot morphing into the next one.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 22, 2005