Nivelli's War Synopsis

The time: the height of World War II. The place: Frankfurt, Germany. Ernst is a young boy who lives with his mother and grandfather. When the air raids and bombings become too much to bear, Ernst is sent to live with his Aunt Sophie.

When he arrives at his aunt's farmhouse, Aunt Sophie is unhappy and behaves oddly. She tasks him with looking out for a chicken stealer she calls 'a fox.' Ernst sees footprints and realises that the fox in question is all too human. Food begins to run short and Aunt Sophie's behaviour becomes even stranger. One day she leaves the farm without explanation and does not come back. It is now, when he is cold, wet, hungry and alone that he meets the enigmatic 'fox.' Ernst gives him the name of 'Mr H' and implores the stranger to take him all the way back to Frankfurt. Mr H does not at first wish to help Ernst, but for his own reasons he eventually agrees.

As they travel through war-torn Germany, they see homes destroyed by bombs, rubble in the streets and displaced families. They spy a river and decide to set up camp for the night. As they lay down to sleep, they are awakened by two Russian soldiers with guns. With Ernst's help, Mr. H distracts and captivates the battle weary men with magic tricks. Impressed by Mr. H's clever trickery, the soldiers leave the much relieved travellers.

Continuing their arduous journey, Mr H begins to suffer from an old leg wound and they are glad to spot a grand old house in the distance. Thinking that the house has been abandoned, and hoping for shelter from the cold night, they decide to break in. When the owner of the house catches them snooping around, she graciously invites them to stay as her guests. To thank her for her hospitality, Mr. H entertains their host with more magic tricks, and Ernst begins to learn them too.

As they finally approach Frankfurt, Mr. H becomes very ill and Ernst struggles to complete the journey home. Everything in the city has changed and Ernst doesn't know how to find his house. Will he be reunited with his Mother once again? And who is the remarkable Mr. H?