Volker Schlaandorff, born in Germany in the fateful year 1939, has explored his country's dark history in such films as "The Tin Drum," "The Ogre" and "The Legend of Rita."
Now he returns to the Nazi era in the intense "The Ninth Day," a film mature enough to view the Shoah from a different perspective and to confront the viewer with complex questions of morality, religion and character.
Based broadly on the wartime diary of a Luxembourg priest, the Rev. Jean Bernard, the films opens in a wintry Dachau, where three special barracks have been set aside for clergymen. The vast majority of the occupants are Catholic, but there also are some Protestant and Greek Orthodox ministers who have refused to toe the Nazi line.
Graham Greene and John Le Carré have been there before: A shadowy source with access to the highest reaches of an enemy regime. A vain, furtive secret service handler with a chip on his shoulder, who insists that the informant will speak to no one but him. A steady flow of alarming exclusive reports, plausible but inherently uncheckable. An intelligence community more concerned with protecting its turf than investigating all the way when suspicions were first aroused.