Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Every movie about the Holocaust should be this good, but few are.
  2. 80
    A potent and well-executed drama.
  3. Commands attention from its very first frame and never lets up right through the fade-out. It is a splendid example of classic screen storytelling with no false steps, and Gansel's understated approach pays off with resounding emotional effect and meaning.
  4. 75
    Gansel based the film on the memories of one of his grandfathers. The acting is believable; the photography, atmospheric; and the moral, unmistakable.
  5. Like its singular central character, Before the Fall stands out from the pack.
  6. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    All the paraphernalia so important to the image of the Reich, particularly the uniforms, are painstakingly rendered, bringing a heightened sense of realism to what might otherwise have been a romantic coming-of-age tale.
  7. Reviewed by: Richard James Havis
    This well-made World War II film from Germany is both a coming-of-age story and a critique of National Socialist ideology.
  8. 70
    When movie clich├ęs are presented with rigor and feeling, they can pack a fresh punch.
  9. 70
    It's an emotionally chilly movie with a blank, inexpressive protagonist, but it gains cumulative force en route to a viscerally moving climax.
  10. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    If Before the Fall feels a tad overdetermined, it also feels emotionally honest. Calmly and carefully, Mr. Gansel makes large points with small scenes.
  11. Reviewed by: Joshua Katzman
    The hero (played with the right amount of adolescent insouciance by Max Riemelt) is a working-class boy admitted to one of the academies for his formidable boxing skills, and through him director Dennis Gansel captures the ordinariness of Hitler's supporters.
  12. The homoerotic relationship between Friedrich and Albrecht is stopped short by tragedy, but the point is made - to Friedrich and the audience - that fascism has no room for humanity.
  13. 63
    Unusually compelling, even if it's treacly enough to be "The Chorus" in goose step.
  14. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    The film is a competent but callow work dealing with a monstrous subject that automatically rejects callowness.
  15. Surely played better on the page than on the screen. What's left is the same old drill driven by brutal master race fervor.
  16. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    An intermittently gripping story about an idealistic young boxer who becomes disillusioned with the Third Reich during his elite training, Napola is finally KO'd by an overdose of Nazi fetishism.
  17. Reviewed by: R. Emmet Sweeney
    The movie is too middlebrow to show us the superman-type sexual heroics they must've engaged in, or even allow the illicit subtext to float to the surface (as Sokurov does in Father and Son)--instead we get tepid moralizing on dehumanization in the military.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 13 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 7
  2. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. JimG.
    Jun 25, 2006
    Interesting if uneven drama about awakening to disillusionment.
  2. ConradS.
    Jun 14, 2006
    Engaging with excellent performances. Max Riemelt is particularly good. If the whole film was just a bit more subtle, it would've been truly outstanding. Full Review »
  3. PhilipJ.
    May 15, 2006
    The story of these two boys making a stand against the hideous nazi germany is one of the most emotional and inspiring films i've ever seen. experience it and believe it. Full Review »