13 Minutes

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13 Minutes
13 Minutes.jpg
Film poster
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Produced by
Written by
Starring Christian Friedel
Music by David Holmes
Cinematography Judith Kaufmann
Edited by Alexander Dittner
Lucky Bird Pictures[1]
Distributed by NFP marketing & distribution
Release dates
  • 12 February 2015 (2015-02-12) (Berlin)
  • 9 April 2015 (2015-04-09) (Germany)
Running time
114 minutes
Country Germany
Language German

13 Minutes (German: Elser – Er hätte die Welt verändert) is a 2015 German drama film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel that tells the true story of Georg Elser's failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in November 1939. The title of the film is drawn from the fact that Elser's bomb detonated in a venue that the Fuhrer had left just 13 minutes before.

It was screened out of competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.[2] It was one of eight films shortlisted by Germany to be their submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards,[3] but it lost out to Labyrinth of Lies.[4]


In November 1939, after planting a bomb inside a column of a Munich bierkeller, Georg Elser (Christian Friedel) attempts to cross into neutral Switzerland but is caught at the border. His home-made bomb detonates but misses killing Adolf Hitler, the German leader, by just 13 minutes.

The German security services find incriminating evidence on Elser and link him to the assassination attempt. They believe Elser must have been working with a group of conspirators and torture Elser to find this information. They also round up members of his family from his home village, including Else Härlen (Katharina Schüttler), a married woman Elser has been seeing.

When Else Härlen is brought before Elser, he fears for her life and tells the police chief Arthur Nebe (Burghart Klaußner) and Gestapo head Heinrich Müller (Johann von Bülow) that he acted alone, procuring detonators from a steel factory and stealing dynamite from a nearby quarry. He outlines the two clockwork mechanisms he built to time the explosion and hopefully kill Hitler as he made a speech. Still believing Elser could not have attempted the assassination alone he once more tortured using drugs (Pervitin) but with the same result as before - he confirms acted alone.

Through flashbacks we learn how Elser came to despise the Nazis and how he saw that Hitler needed to be removed to save Germany. We learn that following his arrest, Elser was kept in concentration camps for five years and was shot a few days before American forces liberated Dachau concentration camp (a few weeks before the war ended).

Elser is now regarded a German resistance hero of the Second World War.


Critical reception

The film has been received generally positively by critics, holding a 60% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[5] The review in The Guardian newspaper noted the film as '...a heartfelt study of a man who tried to kill Hitler' The newspaper was also very complimentary about Christian Friedel's performance as Elser.[6]

However, the entertainment magazine Variety were less impressed, saying '... the absence of subtlety combined with predictable dollops of sentimentalism once again trivialize events in the name of making them understandable.'[7] In the Daily Telegraph review, the reviewer noted the film as having an '...overbearing sentimentalism and lacquered, Oscar-hungry sheen'.[8]


  1. "13 Minutes by Oliver Hirschbiegel". Beta Cinema. Retrieved 14 December 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Berlinale 2015: Competition Complete". berlinale.de. Retrieved 28 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Germany Picks Final Eight Titles to Vie for Oscar Submission". IndieWire. 13 August 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Roxborough, Scott (27 August 2015). "Oscars: Germany Picks 'Labryinth of Lies' for Foreign Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/elser/?search=13%20minutes RT
  6. Bradshaw, Peter (16 July 2015). "13 Minutes review – a heartfelt study of a man who tried to kill Hitler". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Weissberg, Jay. "Berlin Film Review: '13 Minutes'". Variety. Retrieved 28 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Smith, Patrick (16 July 2015). "13 Minutes review: 'Subtle it is not'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 March 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links