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My copy of Jew Suss is exceptionally bad, being an ageing VHS recording with poor image and sound but nevertheless this is a film worth repeated viewing. I wonder which other countries in the 1930s would have had the confidence to film such a controversial story. Jew Suss, on the surface, is a call to oppose the growth of anti-semitism but the hero of the film is no likable chap, he is a ruthless exploiter, a womaniser, a procurer of women-and a father and a son with a tender side to his nature. He despises his master, the Duke and as much as Suss is in the Duke's power, so is the opposite the case. The only person Suss fears is the Rabbi Gabriel who one can call, perhaps,his conscience or at least the one means whereby Suss is kept connected to the reality of the world in which he lives. It is Gabriel who reminds Suss to visit his mother and his child and it is during these visits that we see his tenderness. Apart from anything else, though, the key to the character of Suss is that, good or bad, he is true to himself and his principles and it is this which finally brings about his downfall. He would only have to declare himself a Christian (and in the book this is what his cousin has already done) for all to be forgiven but he will not do it, even though a rather dubious plot device would make this the obvious thing to do. I find without exception that all performances in this film are excellent.
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