Colonia (a.k.a. The Colony), 2015.
Directed by Florian Gallenberger.
Starring Emma Watson, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Bruhl, Richenda Carey, Vicky Krieps, Jeanne Werner and Julian Ovenden.
A young woman’s desperate search for her abducted boyfriend that draws her into the infamous Colonia Dignidad, a sect nobody has ever escaped from.
Every true artist sets out to make an impact. Some are content to touch at least one life through their self-expression, whereas others have loftier aspirations and hope to change the world, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. With his new film The Colony, Oscar-winning director Florian Gallenberger has achieved the latter, and that is not hyperbole.
The Colony is set against the backdrop of the Colonia Dignidad in 1973, a Chilean military coup/cult sect led by German preacher Paul Schafer (Michael Nyqvist). The story centres around Lena (Emma Watson), a stewardess who must rescue her boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bruhl) after he is abducted by the cult. Together, they must escape from the compound and get out of a country where no one is on their side.
The reason why The Colony has changed the world somewhat is due to it uncovering a conspiracy regarding the real life case, which just so happened to involve the German government at the time. A special screening of the film was shown for the current government of the country, and now steps are hopefully being taken to right some of those wrongs. It’s not often that cinema achieves such feats; even though it is one of the most powerful mediums for raising awareness, it is a special occasion when it actually manages to result in action being taken.
However, as a film, it challenges the nature of leadership in general by examining how absolute power can corrupt, and how those who follow blindly enable it. That message is universal, and if anything can be taken away from The Colony it’s that we should think for ourselves in order to prevent corrupt despots from gaining a foothold in our democracy. The core message at the heart of the film is to always question authority and be as informed as possible.
As a thriller, it’s wholly engaging. As much as Gallenberger sets out to encourage autonomy and shed some light on atrocities, it doesn’t come at the expense of crafting a good nail-biting, edge of your seat slice of entertainment. There isn’t anything unconventional to throw a spanner in the works from what we’ve come to expect from films of this ilk; but it applies the tried-and-tested formula more than sufficiently. Granted, given the subject material, some of the more accustomed viewers might feel it could have been darker. That being said, it doesn’t need to go to such lengths to get its point across either.
Emma Watson is the star of the show. Her performance exudes both vulnerability and strength, and brings her character to life in a way that’s believable. The emotional heft of the situation is displayed tenfold and we can invest in her turmoil emotionally. The Colony has a hero worth rooting for; but we all know the best heroes shine when they’re up against villainous counterpart who’s just as good. Step in Michael Nyqvist: chilling, intimidating and bearing a strikingly disturbing resemblance to the real life villain he’s playing. From a performance standpoint, it fires on all cylinders.
Go see The Colony. It works as a brief time capsule of a disturbing period in history; implying enough to give you an idea of the atrocities experienced during the coup, but creating its own unique story which allows you to uncover most of the history for yourself. It also works as a parable for the nature of extreme politics. However, if you just want some entertainment, it more than hits the spot in that area too.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★