Stranger Says: Breathtaking black-and-white cinematography enlivens and ennobles this unbelievably brutal, disturbingly brilliant psychological study of the corrupting influence of power. Two weeks before the end of WWII, a lowly, starving German soldier, probably a deserter, scavenges a meager existence near the front. He comes upon a suitcase that contains a captain’s uniform. Initially, he puts it on to help guard against the cold. Then he gets an idea, which sets him on a course of impersonation that grows darker, more violent, and, troublingly, more credible as his path through the nearly defeated Reich proceeds. Before long, his bluff becomes a more sinister kind of performance. He wears the mask long enough for it to become his face. Many people have expressed a desire in the past couple of years to understand not merely the fact of fascism, but the process of it. The Captain isn’t exactly easy to watch (though, again, nearly every frame is beautiful), but as a window onto that process—the way people wield, dread, and capitulate to power—it’s indispensable.
by Sean Nelson