STARRING: Rutger Hauer, Miranda Richardson, Peter Vaughan, Michael Kitchen, Jean Marsh    

1995, 110 Minutes, Directed by: Christopher Menaul

Description: This retro-futuristic adventure depicts a 1964 in which Hitler won the war and Joe Kennedy Sr. is U.S. president. Europe is known as Germania and opens its borders to American journalists, hoping to line up the U.S. as an ally against Russia.

While many people may not think of Robert Harris’ best-selling novel Fatherland as science fiction, it definitely is. After all, its alternate universe theme based on the question "what if Hitler had won WWII?" is the staple diet of many a sci-fi novel, perhaps most notably Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle.

Whereas Dick explored his favorite hang-up of "what is reality?" in The Man In The High Castle, Harris’ Fatherland is perhaps the best invocation of what it would have been like to live in a Europe conquered by the Nazis. Besides that, it is also an unusual page turner, well researched and tinged with Harris’ political cynicism. If you haven’t read it, then I would suggest that you do so immediately.

However, while the made for cable television movie based on the novel isn’t an extreme case of "how not to adapt a novel to the big screen," Fatherland remains a disappointment. Not bad, but not any good either it simply fails to capture the atmosphere and excitement of the Harris novel. Even worse, it exchanges the novel’s powerful ending with a forced Hollywood-type happy ending.

Whilst reading the novel I kept on thinking what a brilliant movie it would make. This is however not that movie . . .

If you haven’t read the book, then don’t bother with this movie. Read the book instead. If you have read the book, then you’ll no doubt also be disappointed with this movie adaptation.



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