The German Doctor

This quietly unnerving Argentinean drama (2013) centers on a Patagonian family in 1960 who unknowingly welcome the fugitive Dr. Josef Mengele into their home. Director Lucia Puenzo, adapting her novel Wakolda, presents the story from the perspective of the family’s 12-year-old daughter, whom Mengele ends up using as a guinea pig in a biological experiment. It’s an effective narrative strategy; rather than try to explain Mengele’s evil, Puenzo presents it as beyond comprehension, invoking a child’s horror of the unknown. Ultimately she’s less concerned with Mengele than with how otherwise decent people could be persuaded to accept the Nazi doctrine of eugenics; the remote, homogeneous setting serves as a visual metaphor for willful ignorance and nativist pride. In subtitled German and Spanish.