‘Downfall’ Director Joins Biopic of Nazi Resistance Fighter Georg Elser

Oliver Hirschbiegel Headshot - P 2011
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Oliver Hirschbiegel Headshot - P 2011

Oliver Hirschbiegel will direct the film about the German carpenter who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1939.

BERLIN – Oliver Hirschbiegel, director of the Oscar-nominated Hitler drama Downfall, has signed on to direct an upcoming biopic on lesser-known Nazi resistance fighter Georg Elser.

Elser, a simple carpenter, nearly changed the course of history when he attempted to assassinate Hitler on November 8, 1939.

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Elser’s homemade bomb, planted at Munich’s Burgerbraukeller ahead of an anniversary speech by the Nazi leader would have killed Hitler, but he left the room early. Thirteen minutes later, the bomb exploded, killing eight people. Elsner was arrested on the Swiss border and sent to a concentration camp. He was killed there in 1945, just a few days before the end of the war, on Hitler’s direct order.

The film stars Christian Friedel (Amour Fou) as Elsner, Burghart Klaussner (The White Ribbon) as the head of the Nazi’s criminal police and Johann von Bulow (The Stranger in Me) as Gestapo head Heinrich Muller. Katharina Schuttler (Oh Boy) plays Elsner’s girlfriend Elsa, who knew nothing of his plans.

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Hirschbiegel has become something of an expert in historic biopics. Following Downfall, which was an international critical and commercial hit, he directed the Lady Di drama Diana, which starred Naomi Watts, which was neither.

Fred Breinersdorfer, screenwriter on the Oscar-nominated Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, penned the script to Georg Elser, which will follow the resistance fighter from his early days living in the Swabian Alps to the assassination attempt and his final hours at Dachau concentration camp. 

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German indie distributor NFP, which had a sleeper hit last year with Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt, has picked up Georg Elser for local release and will bow the film April 2, 2015, near the 70th anniversary of Elser’s death. Beta Cinema is handling world sales for the project.

Email: Scott.Roxborough@THR.com

Twitter: @sroxborough