#NewsBytesRecommends: 'Forgive Us Our Trespasses'—potent tale of courage, perseverance, optimism
Set in a dark, despondent time of world history, Nazi Germany, Ashley Eakin's short film Forgive Us Our Trespasses tells the story of audacious courage. Through a young schoolgoing boy, it imparts the message of hope and humanity, especially when the tide is not in one's favor. Streaming on Netflix, it only asks for 13 minutes of your time but imprints your psyche forever.
Captures plight of Hitler's monstrous Aktion T4 victims
The film—which begins in medias res—opens with Peter (Knox Gibson) in a classroom. The first thing we notice about him is his left-handedness, and before we can blink, a gut-wrenching realization kicks us—his right hand is missing. We subsequently realize that in Nazi Germany, Hitler's Aktion T4 led to the murder of 300,000 disabled people, and Peter would be targeted for the same reason.
Death, bleakness define the film from first frame
Death and drudgery exist in abundance in the film. Even as the teacher asks a subtraction question that involves taking care of a patient with a hereditary disease but costs too much, a child innocently asks, "So what do we do in this situation?" Another boy answers unflinchingly, "Kill them." He raises no eyebrows; times are tumultuous, and death is the go-to option.
Film's imagery is central to the narrative
In a film that packs a lot of tension, moral depravity, ethical dilemmas, and instances of indomitable courage, the imagery and mise-en-scene complement the narrative well. The ice-cold weather, sheets of snow, absolute lack of sunshine (and, by extension, optimism), and a pall of gloom blanket the town. It acts as a mirror image of what our protagonist, and millions like him, once encountered.
Gruesome times rob kids of their natural innocence
The aforementioned classroom discussion also, in a way, strips kids of their inherent innocence, and when they realize they are living on borrowed time, they are forced to mature faster. This becomes apparent when a simple mathematical problem, within minutes, metamorphoses into a subtle discussion about euthanasia, moral absolutism, and, in some way, the trolley problem. In harrowing times, there's no place for humanity.
Peter's courage cannot be found in all
When the film reaches its pivotal point of tension, and the Nazi soldiers come to execute the subject (Peter), he musters valor to fight them, despite knowing that they have more equipment and power than he will ever do. From the boy we felt sorry for when we met him for the first time, he turns into someone we can only aspire to be.
Make some space for this short film on your watchlist
Forgive Us Our Trespasses emerges as a poignant watch due to its rootedness. A sense of foreboding seeps through the frame but never overpowers the core narrative. The film may be painted with somber and sepulchral themes, but its ending notes are that of optimism. Thus, it serves as a rare perfect movie that speaks for those who demand more respect, reach, and recognition.