Inspired by the events of the Chilean cult compound Colonia Dignidad, Colonia is a unique, suspenseful, and ground-breaking film. The movie gives a glimpse into the crimes and pure terrors that appeared behind those fences. Emma Watson (Lena) joins the compound in attempt to rescue her captured boyfriend, Daniel Brühl (Daniel), a German activist. She soon discovers that it will be an arduous journey to not only escape, but to find her lover.
The supporting character development is possibly one of the most commendable aspects of the movie. Although Lena and Daniel are the two leading roles, the historical symbolism with Schäfer is created with strength. We first get an idea that something is demonic about his character when the young boy walks out of his office crying, and then a second, blatant, suggestion of pedophilia by the removal of his shoes outside the boys’ showers. Making this movie revolve around a fictional love story is a route less taken when focusing on a historical tragedy, but similar to the well-known and powerful The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Sometimes the best way to incite interest in a historical event is by introducing it in a fictional setting.
Florian Gallenberger’s composition of the film is admirable, yet rough. Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” overlaps, and consequently drowns out the background history at the start of the film. There is a general lack of historical information, especially politically, giving the movie less merit. Despite these flaws, Gallenberger did a substantial job making Colonia for a broader audience. There is history, romance, suspense, adventure, and definitely drama. It is an action-packed story perfect for introducing the little-known Colonia scandal.