The Roth family lead a quiet life in a small village in the German Alps during the early 1930s. When the Nazis come to power, the family is divided and Martin Brietner, a family friend is caught up in the turmoil.
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Interesting to note that the film was made in 1940, 1 year before America's entry into the European war against Hitler. The movie depicts Germany in 1933. In 1938 the 'night of broken glass' took place. Interesting to note the attitudes portrayed in the film, definitely anti-Nazi. Written by
Prof. Viktor Roth (Frank Morgan) is 60 years old in January 30, 1933 so he was born in 1873. When his card is shown in the concentration camp, year 1875 is written. See more »
[white clouds appear; they quickly turn to storm clouds]
When man was new upon the earth, he was frightened by the dangers of the elements. He cried out, "The gods of the lightning are angry, and I must kill my fellow man to appease them!" As man grew bolder, he created shelters against the wind and the rain and made harmless the force of the lightning. But within man himself were elements strong as the wind and terrible as the lightning. And he denied the existence of these ...
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This film is nothing short of a masterpiece ! For its time. Although the world situation has changed completely today, and the film may have little or no relevance to the current world situation, at the time in 1940, this was a very very powerful work indeed ! I had always been curious about this film, having read the book when I was young ( in the 1960's ) and was shocked by it ! It's not a war film and it's not the war aspect that frightened me. No, its the way a happily united family can become so disunited because of politics which sent shivers up my spine !! Suddenly, a peaceful and harmonious situation changes dramatically, and you are obliged to take sides, even fighting against your own blood. It really is awesome. Acting is first-rate and image, though in black and white is more than passable for the period ! I can well imagine the film to have been a very powerful piece of anti-Nazi propaganda ! I'm sorry to have to complain about this again but here we have yet another film which should have been out on DVD for several years but ........ there's no sign of it !
Quite honestly, I found this quite unnerving to watch and felt ill at ease observing the gradual breakdown within the family. It certainly isn't a film for the faint hearted and I won't go any further than mention briefly that AWFUL final scene ........!!
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