Bernhard Carl Trautmann, commonly known as Bert, was born in Germany in 1923 and joined the Luftwaffe early in the Second World War, where he served as a paratrooper. He fought for the Germans for four years, earning five medals, including an Iron Cross, until being captured by the British near the end of the war. Taken to a prisoner of war camp, he refused permission to return to Germany when it was offered, and instead settled in Lancashire where he worked on a farm and played goalkeeper for a local football team.
Eventually, his skill was noticed and he went on to a lengthy professional career as the goalkeeper for Manchester City, but not before he overcame the prejudice of being a dirty stinking enemy Nazi. At the height of his popularity, he suffered a serious injury, swiftly followed by a personal tragedy.
He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for promoting Anglo-German understanding through football.
The Keeper beautifully follows his career from his capture, through his PoW experiences and onward, but it doesn’t shy away from examining his time in the German military and the atrocities he may or may not have witnessed or been able to prevent.
German actor David Kross plays Trautmann with just the right amount of vulnerability and defiance, and the rest of the cast is excellent as well.
A couple things I needed to keep in mind while watching. The film telescopes some timeframes during the early scenes and what may seem like a few months of time in the film actually transpired over the course of a few years in real time. Also, unlike the United States, the Brits actually did suffer from the ravages of the war on their homeland and many of their civilians were killed during the air raids, so their anger at the German enemy and difficulty in forgiving is well founded.
I was curious to learn whether I was related to Trautmann, given the similarities of our last names, but if we are, the common ancestor goes farther back than I was able to trace.
Alas, currently The Keeper is only available in a Region B/2 Blu-ray (so you’ll need a region free player or ripper if you’re in the US) or you can find it for rent at various services on JustWatch.
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