‘Before the Fall (Napola)’


One wouldn’t expect a homoerotic Nazi Saved by the Bell to be lumbering, but here we have Before the Fall staring us earnestly in the face. A strapping young Aryan named Friedrich wows a teacher from an elite national political school (Napola) in 1942 Berlin with his slo-mo boxing skills—and he’s admitted on the spot. He ditches his disapproving parents and enrolls, where he soon gains Zack Morris-like notoriety and hair. His right-hand man is Albrecht, a shriveled violet who’s the brains and Screech of the outfit. They fall in love as they take turns peeking at the consensus fetish object, Katharina (the film’s Kelly Kapowski). The movie is too middlebrow to show us the superman-type sexual heroics they must’ve engaged in, or even allow the illicit subtext to float to the surface (as Sokurov does in Father and Son)—instead we get tepid moralizing on dehumanization in the military.