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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Eternal masterpiece

10/10
Author: Mart Sander from www.martsander.com
8 October 2005

A truly wonderful piece of film-making. One might try to ridicule it as a Nazi propaganda vehicle, but the truth is, this film is much too good to really suffer for these accusations. Yes, there is the presence of the Nazi principle of sacrifice, and things like "Kraft durch Freude" (strength through joy) are said, but this really doesn't matter. The atmosphere, the colours, the camera-work - everything is top notch. The actors, too: Kristina Söderbaum, the wife of Harlan and a star in his every film, proves for once that she really could act. Even though she seems very plump in this film, it can be understood why she was considered one of the best European actresses of the period. Her acting here is much better than anywhere else, even though on the over-dramatic side as always. Carl Raddatz was never a handsome leading man, so God only knows why Harlan paired him with Kristina so often. He was a decent actor, though. The Estonian-born Irene von Meyendorff is a woman from another planet and perfect in the role of Octavia, plus an amazingly beautiful woman. About the plot: Albrecht and Octavia live in their vanishing, shadowy world of German nobility, in a gloomy mansion where the blinds are always drawn. To a neighbouring villa a voluptuous Swedish amazon moves, and Albrecht is blinded by her sensuous and sometimes almost vulgar appearance. Even though Äls looks like a proper stake-and-kidney-pie, she is nevertheless marked for death. Now, the question is: who should sacrifice himself/herself for who? A lot of beautiful locations, beautiful gowns and a great masked ball scene.

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22 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Transcendent film art

Author: LewisJForce (gunghomonro@yahoo.com) from Wolverhampton, England
23 April 2004

I have just left a screening of Veit Harlan's film 'Opfergang' ('The Great Sacrifice'). It was shown as part of a film class on German cinema. I've loved film since a very young age, but, shamefully, had never have even have heard of Harlan. Let alone seen any of his pictures. Purely on the basis of this work alone, I would say that his name should be up there with fellow countrymen (and woman) Murnau, Lang and Riefenstahl. One of THE greats of German, nay WORLD cinema. It seems that his remarkable talent has been somewhat eclipsed by his association with Nazi propaganda flicks, and unlike the extraordinary Riefenstahl, his reputation never managed to transcend this.

The film is astonishingly beautiful and moving in a poetically strange way. It's one of those rare films that has an atmosphere that is completely unique and totally mesmeric. An obsessive, intensely personal quality that is magical. I will not attempt to provide a plot synopsis or dally with subtext. I merely urge you to see it however you can. As it seems to be unavailable in almost any media this could prove extremely difficult. It appears that I was incredibly fortunate to see it at all, let alone in a good print on a big screen.

An amazing work of art that, like all real art, has enriched me and changed me in some way.

Before you do anything else, hunt this down and see it NOW.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A true piece of art

10/10
Author: vinnienh from Den Helder, Holland
11 August 2002

This is a film of incredible beauty, without doubt one of the most dramatic and moving pictures ever made. The wonderful Agfacolor-photography is astonishing, the main figures Äls, Albrecht and Octavia are played marvellous by Söderbaum, Raddatz and von Meyendorff. Director Veit Harlan once again surpasses himself!

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Disturbing and morbid

5/10
Author: slabihoud from Austria
16 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I must say I am very much surprised to read the other reviews here. The reviewers seems to downplay the circumstances that led to the creation of this particular film. Instead the focus is on the artistry of the director and the cameraman. The story is just a melodrama. An escapist movie. Well...

Everyone should be aware that this film was intended to have an important influence on the German public in 1944. Therefore this is no escapist film! Not at all, and the underlying themes, that some reviewers mention, were the very motive for its making. Otherwise, this film would never have got the green light to be shot in the very expensive and difficult Agfacolor process. This film should be as opulent and stunning as possible, overwhelming the public visually while at the same time speaking to the unconsciousness of each viewer.

In 1944, the Third Reich was bound to go down. The film, as most films in Germany at that time, tries to show an undisturbed country, no war at all. But the repeating themes of death and nocturnal feelings, fate and foresee, plagues and diseases speak to a viewer, who has many sorrows and fears for the future. The goal was to get the people go on through hard times, to face the inevitable and become friends with death! Beside the most melodramatic telling of the story, the music plays a very important, and for my ears, very painful part. The constant use of swelling ups and choruses seemed to be trying to prepare us for the worst (which in reality was really to come). The music wants to pull one over to the "other side". Death is hovering over the whole picture. The whole story has a sickly and foul feeling.

The technical aspects of the film should not be overlooked, though. The color photography is great and so is the Art direction. I saw the film yesterday, a very good print at the Austrian Filmmuseum.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The best German romantic picture

10/10
Author: cynthiahost from United States
16 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a serious classic film fan. I just learned that the escapist films of Germany during the war was a part of the propaganda machine. For example how Club Foot let jazz and swing be played in a percentage of the musicals of the time like Es Lebe De Lebe, Hallo Janine, Women of My dreams , ex cetera. Inspite of the ban on jazz and swing at that time,Club Foot was hoping to get more members of the Nazi party through buttering up the audience. Mariak Rokk and Christine Soderbaum were queens of AGFA color mainly because of their Aryan looks.So the escapism types were propaganda too in a way. Opfergang is the name of Christine Soderbaums horse,maybe. This is a German Nazi version of a Harlequin romance novel on film. The art direction for the AGFA color cinema photography was gorgeous. The costume ball sequence was great.Although the music in that party was tango and no fox trot ,Aka a sneak word for swing and jazz at the time to get through the third Reich bias.Irene Mynahoff was a lot warmer acting as Carl Radatz wife than she were in Kolberg. She was an ice queen. Chrisitne play a wealthy women who's either divorced or husband had died and left a fortune. She has a little girl but has either a paid servant or her aunt or her mother to take care of it for her.She and Carl meet and ride horses together they succumb to an affair or that it looks that way.Eventually Carl convinces Irene to move to a new house without her realizing he's doing it to be closer to Christine.Frank Sheihaflin play Carls work associate or best Friend.He's playing his age. In Csadaristfurstin he played Johanne Heesters father ,too young .One day as both Irene and Carl are out doors. she starts to get suspicious of the reason why Carl bought the house. When she sees Chrisitne go out of her house and she starts following her until Frank sees her and wonder why she following her. Both discover that she visiting her child. Eventually as with Camille she succumbs to a heart conditioning. Carl gets sick too but pulls out of it .If this was made in united states under the production code Alth and Carl would of both have to pay for their sins any how . In this case Alths died to pay for her sins to following the guidelines of the Nazi production code when a character commits adultery. This thing happen in Das Goldene Staht too. So adulterers didn't get away with it neither in Nazi Germany. There's a scene in the costume ball sequence where a contest is being played and the prize is a barrel of beer from Scholtzes beer garden, Just teasing. I got this print it's a warn video master the color is intact still not sharp but watchable. The restored DVD version has not been put out yet.I got it at German War Films dot com. They tell you the quality of the prints. The only problem with this picture ,other than video print, is that the story is slow moving.05/20/11, Just received the subtitled version.A better print too The story is more understandable.From German war films dot com. 09/01/11. I got the premiere restored print, from Riechs Kino, It a digital transfer. The contrast is even balanced too. But no subtitles.But the print is beautiful. 09/18/11 There was a misunderstanding with Reichs Kino and me. The print they gave me was good but it wasn't restored version. I got suspicious about it .It wasn't perfect. Then they told me . The restored version won't be available till 2012.

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