Blind spot is a talking-head movie, a 90-minute interview in close-up of Traudl Junge, who at 22 was hired as one of Adolf Hitler's three personal secretaries. At 80, she decided to tell her story, and the result is a unique historical document.Junge spent the last three years of the war working closely with Hitler -- he dictated his final political testament to her -- and if she offers no big historical insights, she presents a portrait of life in the bunker in the final days that appears to be untainted by a self-serving agenda. There is no need for her to justify herself; after all, she was just the secretary.
Indeed, one of the most interesting elements of her testimony is her statement that she wasn't aware of the scope and nature of the Holocaust until after the war. It was never discussed in front of her.
She didn't realize until later what had happened, and did not understand the nature of collective responsibility until she saw the monument to Sophie Scholl, one of the leaders of the White Rose anti-Nazi movement who was executed about the time Junge began working for Hitler, and was the same age as Junge.
Blind Spot offers the perspective of a child of Hitler's Germany. Born in 1920, Junge was 13 when Hitler came to power. She was not a political person, and, from her own testimony, seemed indifferent to the fact of the war until she found herself at its nerve centre.
What she provides from that vantage point is an array of tiny details about life next to Hitler: Eva Braun's paranoia; the personal animosities within the high command; the fact that everyone was issued cyanide capsules in the final days, including the secretaries, because for women suicide was generally considered preferable to being captured by the Soviet Army.
The film is compulsively watchable, making us conscious of how few memoirs we have from people who have no power but do have an unusual proximity to it -- the Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern view of history.
At the same time, I'm not sure why it requires a theatrical release. Shot on video, Blind Spot basically gains little from big-screen viewing. Nevertheless, it would have been very interesting to attend the film's world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last year.
Note that Junge, who seems remarkably robust in the film, very sharp and aware for someone her age, died the day after the premiere. firstname.lastname@example.org
BLIND SPOT: HITLER'S SECRETARY directed by André Heller and Othmar Schmiderer, produced by Danny Krausz and Kurt Stocker, with Traudl Junge. 90 minutes. A Sony Pictures Classics release through Mongrel Media. Opens Friday (February 28). For venues and times, see First-Run Movies, page 75. Rating: NNNN