Six Minutes to Midnight Parent Guide
Although the film isn't as compelling as it should be given its plot, it still manages to be interesting.
Parent Movie Review
There’s a disconcerting moment in Six Minutes to Midnight when a group of schoolgirls sing William Blake’s anthem “Jerusalem”. The lyrics, pledging to build and defend a holy city in England, are certainly appropriate for the 1939 Sussex setting. But this isn’t any group of girls: these are the daughters and granddaughters of the Nazi high command.
Based on a true story, this movie depicts the last days of the Augusta Victoria College, a girls’ school located in Bexhill-on-Sea. Sent to school to become fluent in English and to be groomed for high society marriages, the German students find themselves caught between personal loyalties and the demands of two nations soon to be at war.
The film opens with the suspicious death of the school’s English teacher and the arrival of his replacement. Thomas Miller (Eddie Izzard) is an intelligence agent determined to uncover links between the school and pro-Nazi supporters in England. Despite his qualms, he is also tasked with discovering the girls’ plans to return to Germany. Knowing that war is imminent, British intelligence wants to prevent the girls from leaving so they can be kept as prisoners – and pawns. With the lives of the students and potentially the security of Great Britain at stake, Miller can’t afford to fail.
Six Minutes to Midnight tells a mesmerizing story, but the movie overall falls short of the potential of its plot. The bare bones of the tale are riveting – a Nazi finishing school existing on Britain’s most vulnerable coastline; Nazis consorting with English fifth columnists at a finishing school; British intelligence planning to take teenage girls hostage. Yet somehow, these elements don’t coalesce into an equally enthralling film.
The failures of this production boil down to its decision to sacrifice character development in favor of action sequences. The movie’s pacing suffers, with what feels like huge stretches of time devoted to chase scenes as Miller is pursued over beaches, up and down hills, through towns, along piers, and across meadows. Some of the chase scenes are ridiculous, but eventually they just become boring. If director Andy Goddard had cut some of the pursuits and spent more time developing the other characters – particularly school headmistress Miss Rocholl (Judi Dench) and the students (who barely qualify as ciphers) – this film could have been compelling instead of merely interesting.
These flaws drag down an otherwise solid movie. When given something to work with, the acting is good, with Carla Juri, in particular excelling as the brittle Ilse Keller. Judi Dench doesn’t have nearly enough to do in the script but Eddie Izzard is good fun to watch. The only real content issues involve violence: not surprisingly, this spy thriller contains scenes of assault and murder, although they are neither graphic nor glamorized. Given these issues, the movie’s PG-13 rating is appropriate and this is a film that can be watched by interested teenagers.
Frankly, the violence isn’t the most chilling part of the film: that dubious distinction goes to the most “Nazified” scenes - moments when the girls listen raptly to Hitler’s speeches on the radio and give the Hitler salute or when Ilse Keller instructs them in anti-Semitism. The gas chambers of Auschwitz cast a long and chilling shadow back through time over the days of that sunlit summer.Directed by Andy Goddard. Starring James D'Arcy, Judi Dench, and Eddie Izzard. Running time: 99 minutes. Theatrical release March 26, 2021. Updated March 23, 2021
Watch the trailer for Six Minutes to Midnight
Six Minutes to Midnight
Rating & Content Info
Why is Six Minutes to Midnight rated PG-13? Six Minutes to Midnight is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some violence.
Violence: A man ransacks a classroom. A teenager finds a dead body. Teens make the Nazi salute. People are shot on screen; some die and one is seen bleeding and dying. A man is punched in the face and is shown with bruises. A man punches a person who is tied up. An adult hits a girl with a hairbrush. A man threatens someone with a kettle of boiling water. An adult pulls a gun on a teenager.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: There is a single minor profanity and an ethnic slur aimed at Germans.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character smokes cigarettes. A man drinks alcohol after a stressful time.
Page last updated March 23, 2021
Six Minutes to Midnight Parents' Guide
“Every game of chess needs pawns” says Colonel Smith as he tells Thomas Miller why British Intelligence wants to keep the girls in England. Do you think it’s acceptable for a country to use teenage girls as hostages? Do you think the exigencies of war justify things that couldn’t be done in peacetime? Do you think the girls would be better off in Germany or Britain?
After Miller sees Miss Rocholl give a Nazi salute along with her students, she justifies herself by telling him, “We shouldn’t apologize for passion, for pride. Why should we criticize a country that strives to be great?” Why is the Nazi salute more than just a tribute to national pride? What does it really signify? At what point does national pride become toxic? How do you distinguish between a healthy sense of patriotism and a dangerous form of nationalism? Does your culture have symbols which some people think are neutral or positive and others find offensive or disturbing?
For more about the real Augusta Victoria College, you can check this video link:
YouTube: Sussex Heritage Community: The Augusta Victoria College, Nazi girls finishing school 1932-1939 Bexhill
Related home video titles:
Eddie Izzard also stars in another movie set in the runup to the war, Castles in the Sky. Here he plays Robert Watson Watt, the meteorologist responsible for developing radar technology.
Jojo Rabbitfeatures a young boy in the Third Reich who struggles to reconcile the anti-Semitism he has been taught with the reality of a Jewish girl he knows.