The detritus of war destroys any healthy life (mentally and physically), and this is how the prolific war cinema has been in charge of showing it throughout history, especially that of both world wars. Now we are experiencing a small resurgence that relaunched the vertiginous ‘1917’ and whose recognition was well latent with the 4 Oscars that ‘All Quiet Front’ won in the last edition, confirming that those two massive tragedies will continue to provide tons of material to the creators who decide to look back and reflect.
However, war cinema has continually underlined that within misery, horror and putrefaction, digging deep down, we can find camaraderie, benevolence and even, why not, justice. Trying to shed some light in all the darkness, this genre has wanted to rescue those virtues that make the human being the best, just when he is committing the worst. Between the chaos and the battle, there can be impossible friendships, like the one he occupies in ‘The Fox’, directed by Adrian Goigingerwho wanted to pay tribute to the life of his great-grandfather in the war.
‘The Fox’ tells the true story of Franz Streitberger (Simon Morzé), the great-grandfather of the Austrian filmmaker, a motorcycle courier for the Austrian army who was recruited by the Wehrmacht after the Nazi annexation of Austria. Just before an attack on the allied army, Franz finds a fox cub in a forest and decides to adopt it. From there, a friendship as unusual as it is powerful arises between the two beings, stripped of all family and home, they must wander between terror and uncertaintybut always together.
gimmicky but effective solution
The tape doesn’t have much more to it than that. That is, the rest of the aspects work for and for the friendship between human and fox. It is surrounded by an outstanding soundtrack and photography, which demonstrate the care that Goigingier has taken in the setting and staging of the story.. ‘The fox’ is extremely important to the filmmaker, and it is something that is noticeable in every shot.
Beyond that, Goigingier looks at the Austria of the 20s and 30s. Europe between the wars was ruled by extreme poverty and the dawn of the new rise of Nazism. For this reason, ‘El zorro’ begins with a flashback where the young Franz, still a child, lives with his large family in deplorable conditions. At the risk of not being able to maintain child support from him, Franz’s father agrees to let a wealthier farmer take him away. This way, ‘El zorro’ lays the foundations of the complicity between the leading role and the spectator, without leaving a loophole for the public to think that he is a Nazi and not a mistreated young man who has been kidnapped since childhood and must survive based on integrity and suffering in a side that does not celebrate.
But the Austrian director’s film wants to get rid of any moral or ethical dilemma, not only about whether Nazism is yes or Nazism is not (where the answer is clear), but also about any loving or brotherly dilemma. Franz will have certain relationships throughout this adventure in which he does not know how to function at all, thus emphasizing that his casual and pure relationship with the fox is the only thing that allows him to give and receive love.
Definitely, ‘El zorro’ is a precious film that entrusts all its virtue to a predictable but effective relationship, with a sentimentality that does not creak given the seriousness of the matter and with amazing technical care. It is one of those magnificent films in which you expect an emotional bombshell that when it actually arrives, no matter how much you feel prepared, you shed tears and you can’t do anything to avoid it.
The best: The precious relationship between the fox and the young man. The careful aesthetics and the soundtrack.
Worst: Its predictability. For a certain public it can be excessively tear-jerking.