MOVIE REVIEW – Although it is essentially a German World War II film, Blood & Gold also evokes Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns (especially the story of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) with its horrific elements and quirky black humor. Gamers will also find motifs from the Wolfenstein games and the Sniper Elite series in it, as the originally German soldier, but deserter by the course of the plot, Heinrich (Robert Masser) and his other positive characters kill the Nazis as if there was no tomorrow.
Netflix’s new German-language film, Blood & Gold, is a blood-soaked action comedy that takes place in the last days of World War II. The film is directed by Peter Thorwarth, who previously made the horror film Blood Red Sky. The screenplay was written by Thorwarth with Stefan Holtz, who are obviously big fans of Italian spaghetti westerns and Quentin Tarantino’s films. Blood & Gold uses the clichés and style of these genres for a story in which a deserting German soldier and a peasant girl fight for gold and their lives against the evil Nazis.
The deserter and the peasant girl
The protagonist of Blood & Gold is Heinrich (Robert Masser), a simple German soldier who has had enough of the horrors of war and escapes from his unit. On his way he meets Elsa (Marie Hacke), a young peasant girl who lives with her brother on an abandoned farm. Elsa’s brother, Paule (Simon Rupp) is a mentally disabled boy whom Elsa protected from being taken away by the Nazis. Elsa takes in Heinrich and helps him heal. Something more than friendship soon develops between the two young people. Heinrich learns from Elsa that there is a secret treasure of gold nearby, hidden by a Jewish family before they were deported. Heinrich decides to find the gold and take Elsa and Paule with him.
The film’s characters are mostly focused on Heinrich and Elsa. Heinrich is a contradictory figure: on one hand he is a traitorous Nazi soldier, on the other hand he is a loving father and humanitarian fighter. Robert Masser plays this role well: he convincingly shows Heinrich’s guilt, courage and humor. Elsa is a strong and charming female character: she is not afraid to stand up for herself and her loved ones; she does not let herself be humiliated or exploited; but she also has tenderness and romance in her. Marie Hacke also plays this role very well: she radiates vitality and intelligence; but she does not exaggerate either in action or emotion.
The half-wit and the evil nazis
The other characters in the film are less developed or interesting. Elsa’s brother, Paule is just a typical innocent victim: he does nothing but feed the animals or play with them; he does not talk much; but he is always there in trouble. Simon Rupp can not do much with this role: he just looks dumb or scared; but at least he is cute.
The Nazis are just stereotypical villains: they have no motivations or personality traits; they just steal, kill and torture; but at least they die well. The most memorable among them is SS officer von Starnfeld: he is a half-faced psychopath; whose face was damaged by an explosion. Alexander Scheer enjoys this role: he shows himself very evil and dangerous; but sometimes he goes overboard with grimacing or shouting.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The last third of Blood & Gold consists of a long and spectacular action scene in which Heinrich and Elsa fight for gold and their lives against von Starnfeld. The film then completely gives itself over to the mood of spaghetti westerns and Tarantino-style violent humor. The scene of the fight is a ruined church, which is further destroyed by the shooting. The film does not skimp on blood and body parts either. The characters finish each other off in creative ways: with knives, scythes, cannons or even dynamite. The film’s music also contributes to the atmosphere: it accompanies the events with Morricone-like tunes.
Blood & Gold does not aim to be deep or serious. It is an entertaining genre game that aims to create excitement and humor. The film does not take itself too seriously, but it does not mock its subject or characters too much either. The actors play their roles well: Robert Masser convincingly plays the contradictory hero; Marie Hacke charmingly portrays the strong peasant girl; Alexander Scheer enjoys being evil as the SS officer. The film is also technically well done: the visuals are authentic; the action scenes are exciting; the music is atmospheric. Blood & Gold is nothing more than a blood-soaked action comedy set in World War II – but it’s very good at that.