The Captain (2017 film)

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The Captain
The Captain (2017 film).jpg
Film poster
Directed byRobert Schwentke
Produced byFrieder Schlaich
Written byRobert Schwentke
StarringMax Hubacher
Frederick Lau
Bernd Hölscher
Waldemar Kobus
Alexander Fehling
Samuel Finzi
Music byMartin Todsharow
CinematographyFlorian Ballhaus
Edited byMichal Czarnecki
Release date
  • 7 September 2017 (2017-09-07) (TIFF)
  • 15 March 2018 (2018-03-15) (Germany)
Running time
118 minutes
Box office$241,358[1]

The Captain (German: Der Hauptmann) is a 2017 international co-production historical drama film directed by Robert Schwentke. It was screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.[2] It tells the story of German war criminal Willi Herold, who assumed a stolen identity as a German officer and orchestrated the killing of deserters and other prisoners at one of the Emslandlager camps.


In April 1945, during the final weeks of the war, Willi Herold, a young Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) escapes the pursuit of a roving German military police commando who wishes to kill him for deserting. After his escape, Herold finds an abandoned car containing the uniform of a decorated Luftwaffe captain. Herold takes the uniform and impersonates a captain, taking command of a number of stragglers as he moves through the German countryside under the guise that he is on a mission, ordered by Hitler himself, to assess morale behind the front. Although initially promising the local populace a decrease in looting, Herold becomes increasingly despotic as more disparate troops join his command, named Kampfgruppe Herold. These troops include Freytag, a kind, aging rifleman who is made Herold's driver, and Kipinski, a sadistic drunk. Eventually, Kampfgruppe Herold find a German camp full of deserters awaiting execution and assumes control over operations there.

While in the camp, Herold orders the execution of dozens of prisoners (with Kipinski being the principal executioner), and becomes increasingly infatuated with his newfound power. Over the course of their stay, Freytag becomes suspicious of Herold, and realises that the captain's uniform does not belong to him after seeing a tailor shorten the pant legs. Eventually, the camp is destroyed by artillery fire, and Kampfgruppe Herold moves to a local town. While there, the group loots considerably from the local population, and sets up a makeshift command in a hotel under the name Sonderkommando und Schnellgericht Herold. Under this command, Herold orders the execution of Kipinski. After a night of debauchery, the group hotel is stormed by troops from the Wehrmacht, and Herold is arrested. While in court, Herold claims that he acted only in the defense of the German people, and escapes out of a window before his being sent back to the front. In the final scene, Herold is seen walking through a forest filled with skeletal remains, and the audience is informed that he and several of his accomplices were sentenced to death after the war by the Allied forces.


Critical reception[edit]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 85% based on 52 reviews, with an average rating of 7.57/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Captain makes chillingly persuasive points about the dark side of human nature -- and underscores how little certain tendencies ever really change."[3]


  1. ^ "Der Hauptmann". The Numbers. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  2. ^ Pond, Steve (15 August 2017). "Aaron Sorkin, Brie Larson, Louis CK Movies Added to Toronto Film Festival Lineup". The Wrap. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
  3. ^ "The Captain (Der Hauptmann)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 6 June 2019.

External links[edit]