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Forbidden is a great film. It shows what a great actress Jacqueline Bisset is. She is not afraid to play difficult roles and she found one most definitely in the role of the highly moral and intelligent Countess Nina von Halder, a young student studying Veterinary Science. Von Halder falls in love with Fritz Friedlander, the son of a former German Judge. He would be highly respectable in any normal society. Unfortunately he is a German jew living in the time of the Third Reich and given the passing of the infamous Nazi German Nuremberg laws in 1935, he is no longer considered a worthy partner for Countess Nina von Halder. Von Halder takes great risks to protect her love carrying on an illegal relationship with him. She chooses to hide him when the authorities start to round up the Jewish people in Berlin. The horror of this process is superbly depicted when the authorities come to collect Fritz's widowed mother, Ruth Friedlander. Ruth is brilliantly played by the multi-talented late Irene Worth. Thankfully both Fritz and Nina both survive the fall of Berlin. Peter Vaughan is thoroughly despicable in the role of Major Stauffel. Nina has made a hiding place in a sofa for Fritz. Thankfully when Stauffel calls Fritz has found another place which goes undetected by Stauffel as Stauffel suspects Fritz is hiding in the sofa and has it machine gunned. This is a film that shows how love can overcome adversity even through the worst of times under a criminal regime. It is well worth watching.
All of the well-made stories of persecution of Jews and others by the
Hitler regime before and during World War II bring forth emotional
responses. This film is unique in that it combines that reality with
totally believable characters. The film is well written, well directed,
and well acted. The viewer must ask: 'Could you imagine going through
something like that?'
Jacqueline Bisset plays the part of a young German with liberal views very well. Jürgen Prochnow comes across quite well as young man of Jewish heritage who wants very much to be totally German. It is also interesting how the Swedish church plays a key role in protecting the Jews who have escaped deportation. Many questions are stimulated by the film about various parts of German society, but those are questions raised by all coverage of those terrible events.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fritz Friedlander(Jurgen Prochnow)was a German Jew who thought of
himself as a German first and a Jew second. Unfortunately, the Nazi
regime didn't see it that way, and he was constantly in danger of being
exposed as a Jew, with all the prohibitions and punishments that
entailed. His ticket to surviving the Nazi regime was his non-Jewish
girlfriend, Nina (Jacqueline Bisset): a young countess, who had walked
out of a brief marriage and been disowned by her family because of her
liberal views. She was going to school to become a veterinarian. After
falling in love with unemployed poet Fritz, she found a new avocation
in helping an underground operation run by a Swedish clergyman.
Sometimes , this didn't go well. One group of Jews she transferred to a
new hiding place were found by the Gestapo and all shot. Nina barely
survived. Another group were nailed in wooden crates and somehow placed
on a train going to Switzerland. No word on whether they survived this
ordeal, which Fritz almost joined.
By chance, while sitting on a park bench, Fritz encountered a Jew employed by the Gestapo to catch Jews in hiding. They were commonly called 'catchers', and were safe from punishment as long as they caught their quota. Fortunately, he didn't suspect Fritz of being a Jew. Fritz eventually went underground, hiding in Nina's apartment. She tried hiding an acquaintance of Fritz, as well, but found they made too much noise together, so kicked him out. Fritz's mother was invited to join the underground, but she refused, and didn't survive the war. Perhaps it was well she didn't hide in Nina's apartment, as the Gestapo eventually searched it.
Nina got pregnant, but couldn't claim Fritz as the father. So, she talked the Swedish clergyman into masquerading as such. As it turned out, the premature infant didn't survive.
Ironically, Fritz's Jewishness would eventually serve to save his life at the end of the war, and he would eventually marry Nina.
The film was loosely based on the non-fictional book "The Last Jews in Berlin", by Leonard Gross, still in print. The film was coproduced by Britain, West Germany, and the US, broadcast on TV in the US, and released into cinemas in other countries. It was filmed entirely in the greater Berlin area. You can see it on YouTube. Do not confuse it with a film of the same title released in 1953. The present film is not a remake of that film.
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