Based on the real life experiences of a catholic priest who spent nearly two years at Dachau, The Ninth Day, by German director Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum) is a vividly acted and compelling film about the intellectual battle between an ideal-driven priest and the clever SS officer who seeks to turn him into a traitor. Father Henri Kremer, imprisoned in the living hell of Dachau for opposing Nazi racial laws, is suddenly released and sent home to Luxembourg and is given the impression that he is now a free man. His reverie is short-lived, however, when he learns from the young charismatic Gestapo officer assigned to oversee him, Untersturmführer Gebhardt, that he has only nine days of freedom, during which he must convince his superior, the Bishop of Luxembourg, to sign an agreement stating that Nazism is not a threat. If Kremer fails or tries to escape, his fellow imprisoned priests will be tortured and he will mostly likely be killed. Similarly if Gebhardt fails to gain the Priest's cooperation he will be transferred to duty in the death camps. While Kremer struggles with his conscience, the wily Gebhardt, who was nearly ordained as a priest, engages Kremer in a fascinating theological battle during which they debate the role of Judas in Christianity. Their struggle is a cerebral game of chess in which one man has his future on the line, and the other, his life.
With a career spanning five decades, Volker Schlöndorff is a true journeyman of the international cinema and a bridge linking the French New Wave of the 1960's to the New German Cinema of the 1970's. Schlöndorff's feature debut, Young Torless, took the International Film Critics Prize at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival and heralded the rebirth of West German cinema. Throughout the 1970's, Schlöndorff created films that were politically charged, cinematically dexterous, and emotionally detailed. The Tin Drum (1979) won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and was a worldwide art house hit that propelled Schlöndorff into the front ranks of international filmmakers. A prolific adapter of literature to the screen, Schlöndorff has directed films based upon novels by authors as diverse as Gunter Grass (The Tin Drum), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale), Marcel Proust (Swann in Love), Heinrich Boll (The Lost Honor of Katarina Blum), and James Hadley Chase (Palmetto).