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Based on the 1947 book I.G. Farben, by American author Richard Sasuly, and records from the Nuremberg Trial of the chemical giant I.G. Farben, Council of the Gods is a story about the collaboration between international corporations and Nazi scientists, whose research contributed to the death of millions. Featuring music by Hanns Eisler, electronic sound by Oskar Sala (Hitchcocks's The Birds) and a script by Friedrich Wolf, the film is powerful in its depiction of the moral dilemmas and lessons of the war, as well as of Cold War propaganda. The chemist Dr. Hans Scholz lives through a tortuous political transformation and maturation process. Finally, he becomes wrapped up in his political neutrality and closes his eyes to the fact that poison is being produced in his factory. Standing before the judges at the Nuremberg trials he has to face the fact that he was partly responsible for the deaths of millions in the gas chambers of the concentration camps. Written by
DEFA Film Library
Effective propaganda but the source of the film makes me wonder how accurate this all is.
"Der Rat der Götter" ("Council of the Gods") is based, at least in part, on the book "I.G. Farben" by American author, Richard Sasuly--who based it on testimony during the Nuremberg trials. However, considering that the film was a joint Soviet and East German effort, I wonder how closely the film sticks to the facts--especially since the focus of the film is often on the evils of corporations and the goodness of labor unions and the communist party in Germany. Obviously the West Germans and Americans weren't interested in making such a film, as the Cold War was in full swing. And, obviously the Soviets and East Germans wanted to make the capitalist systems look bad. So what is the real truth here? I have no idea--but it does make for a compelling film--whether or not it's accurate or if the facts have been twisted to make the anti-capitalist point. One example of such manipulation was as showing actual footage of a chance explosion at the BASF plant and saying it was of the Farben plant--which did not explode. The next ten minutes was a diatribe against capitalism--and a relatively shallow one at that. Also, the film saying the company in question was pro-Hitler was unfair because they actually contributed to MANY political groups--not just the Nazis. Still, considering the East Germans based this on finding of American investigators makes me think the basic plot is accurate.
I noticed that one reviewer felt the film was dull. I didn't find it that dull but could understand their sentiments. It's a film that is rather talky much of the time and most of the action consists of just a few pieces of stock footage from WWII scattered here and there. However, I found the movie fascinating because anti-Western propaganda films are rarely seen in the US and it was a rare glimpse into the Soviet Bloc world. Plus, the film did have a compelling message about internationalists and corporations profiting from and loving war. Sure, it twisted a few facts here and there--but it did heighten the suspense and added to the impact. And it did get its message across well.
By the way, there is a short documentary in which the film maker talks about the film. He stands by the accuracy of the film overall but admits some 'artistic license' was used as well.
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