This is the story of Thomas, he is a fourteen year old schoolboy in 1944 Germany. The Russians are at the gates and the bombs are falling, in a last desperate attempt by Hitler to bolster up his festering empire, he callously sent out all the boys and old men (Volkssturm or storm of the people) that were left, to follow in the footsteps of the many who had already succumbed to the jaws of the war machine, that he had spawned.
He has a sweetheart Melanie - played with devastating brilliance by Bernadette Heerwagen, whom he dotes on who has to grow up too fast and face the horrors of the vanquished while he is at the front. Then we are taken to the present and he is working for the Russian KGB having been re educated as a former fascist and is now a good Russian spy. Through flash back and painful recollections we get to see the full story of his sad and brutal life, but the vestiges of his boyhood charm still remain in his love of painting. He ends up being despatched to London, where he starts to question his whole existence and what if anything can reclaim the lost innocence and pure joy at being alive that he had once almost taken for granted. Along the way the flash backs get more explicit and we get to see all of the horrors that befell the civilian population as the red Army rolled onwards towards Berlin, either swallowing up the survivors or cruelly using them only to be tossed aside.
This does not pull its punches and examines a number of issues through the characters even the ideology of the true Socialist who can not survive in the reality of the politics and misinformation of `The Cold War', this is personified by Bernard Kay playing Brit sleeper spy Botheringaye.
The production is of high quality throughout and the acting all superb especially Ed Stoppard as the older Thomas who plays the torn and emotionally bruised character to a tee. The period details are excellent, we have real tanks and proper guns firing and even in the sixties the detail and cars are all spot on. Though history purists will not be impressed by all of the props and also quite rightly complain at the lack of `war' scenes, there are other films out there for that. This is a tragic story of what happens in war to the innocents. I found this to be an exceptionally thought provoking and heart breaking piece of cinema, and as such can only recommen