German language ‘In the fade’ is a beautifully made and compelling movie that explores the nature of the justice system and what we should do when it doesn’t work. It’s part legal drama, part revenge-movie and part family drama – it provides plenty of food for thought, and one of the most satisfying endings I’ve seen in a movie for some time.
Nuri, a Kurdish guy is released from prison after serving time for drug dealing. He is married to the heroine of the movie, Katja, and they have a 5 year old son together. One day, seemingly out of the blue, a bomb is detonated in front of the office where Nuri now works, and both he and the little boy are killed. Katja noticed a young girl walking away from an unsecured new bike in front of the office, with turned out to be where the bomb was housed. She identified the culprit, who is subsequently arrested.
The movie then follows the repercussions. There are family fallings out. Katja turns to drugs for solace, and falls out with her parents – who blame her now deceased husband – as a result. Nuri’s parents want to take the body back to Turkey, which she rejects, they walk out as a result and then blame Katja for the deaths. Katja becomes jealous of her sister, who is a proud new mother.
The centrepiece of the movie is the trial of the two Nazis who made and planted the bomb. The lawyer defending the bombers manages to establish the German equivalent of ‘reasonable doubt’, and the bombers are acquitted. What will Katja’s response be to this clear miscarriage of justice?
What should our responses be? Is is acceptable to see people we know to be guilty of a crime walk free because the (often very well-paid and professional) defence has managed to convince the decision makers that there is at least the smallest possibility that an alternate explanation might obtain? Should there be circumstances where a judge or judge and lay-judge panel can override the requirement to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt in favour of establishing guilt according to the level of evidence a reasonable person would accept. Is the legal system of the liberal west too protective of individual rights of individuals at the expense of the protection of the population?
And then, when there has been a miscarriage of justice, how justified is the victim of the miscarriage in taking matters into their own hands? Should they continue to rely on the legal system which has let them down, and take the matter to appeal? Should they cut their losses with the legal system and act vigilante style?
Our verdict: 9/10 – a fabulous movie that deals with some of the most important issues of our day.