This well-done film is really a life story of Bertha Felicie Sophie von Suttner (1843-1914), a 19th century peace activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905. This aristocratic woman was a normal product of her time and in the film we see how she supported her country, Austria, in time of war. However, the horrors of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 change her attitude to one of seeking an end to warfare and this change in attitude alienates her from her employer and from her boyfriend. In 1876, Bertha travels to Paris where she applies for a position as secretary to Dr. Alfred Nobel. This is where we meet Nobel for the first time and we learn that he is a very lonely man as well as a scientific genius. Nobel hires Bertha and, learning of his discovery of dynamite, she makes Nobel promise her that it will only be used for good and not for evil. The discovery of the formula for dynamite by Nobel is a major event of its time and his formula is wanted by every European government. Nobel is persuaded by his business partner, Basil Zaharoff, that selling the patents for dynamite to each and every European government would achieve ever-lasting peace by creating a deterrent to warfare for each government that possessed it. This idea, of course, doesn't work, as seen with nuclear weapons in our own time in the 21st century. Anyway, Bertha gets married, leaves Nobel's employment and continues her work as a pacifist. She writes famous books calling for peace. Her most famous novel, Die Waffen nieder [Lay Down Your Arms], is published late in 1889. Nobel comes back into the story as a believer and follower of Bertha's, telling her of his mistake in letting governments have his dynamite formula and calling it his "sin." The film shows Bertha receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905 and then shows her death in 1914 on the eve of the First World War. Overall this movie is an excellent anti-war story with a very powerful message from the 18 and 19th centuries that still resonates today. The acting is very good and this movie is well worth a look.
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