Paradise tells the compelling story of three individuals, Olga, Jules and Helmut, whose paths cross amidst the devastation of war.
Olga, a Russian aristocratic immigrant and member of the French Resistance, is arrested by Nazi police for hiding Jewish children during a surprise raid. As her punishment, she is sent to jail where she meets Jules, a French-Nazi collaborator who is assigned to investigate her case. Jules grows fond of Olga and offers to go light on her punishment in exchange for sexual favours. Although Olga agrees, and will do whatever it takes to avoid harsh persecution, her hope for freedom quickly fades when events take an unexpected turn.
Shipped to a concentration camp, Olga is forced into a life of hell. To her surprise, she crosses paths with high-ranking German SS officer Helmut, who once fell madly in love with her and still harbours feelings. They re-kindle their old flame and embark on a twisted and destructive relationship. Helmut resolves to rescue Olga and offers her an escape that she no longer thought possible. Yet as time passes, and the fate of Nazi defeat looms, Olga's notion of Paradise is irrevocably changed.
“It’s very important to like characters, because it’s easy to show a Nazi who is an animal, or a sadist or a terrible person, or something. You immediately sense, he’s bad. Evil is a much more sophisticated thing. If all dressed as evil openly, who would go and follow them? Basically, people usually follow someone who gives them a great illusion of something good. And that’s important for me to understand. I like all these three characters and I like their collaboration and I like this Nazi officer, and it’s exactly because I like them that I’m suffering.
Very often in life you like a person, and if you love a person, and a person does terrible things, you don’t stop loving them for that. You just suffer. I think audiences shouldn’t be given pre-digested truths. The audience should come into the seduction of the character. It’s like a big novel, in it you can have wonderful characters that are totally wrong."
Andrei Konchalovsky for Huffington Post
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