Glendon Wasey is a fortune hunter looking for a fast track out of China. Gloria Tatlock is a missionary nurse seeking the curing powers of opium for her patients. Fate sets them on a hectic... See full summary »
The year of the trial is supposed to be around 1973 (date of Sigrid Radke's coerced confession), but the film was shot in contemporary Germany. In a street scene, Gunther X (Sean Penn) walks by a Berlin electronic shop advertising compact disk players (introduced in the early 1980's). Also, Judge Stern refers to the Nurenburg Trials as having occurred "45 years ago", which would refer to the present as around 1990. See more »
Having been stationed at Tempelhof Central Airport in the 1980s, this movie had particular significance. The book is a difficult read--full of legal terminology and political machinations, but in short--the story of a Jewish judge, sent to Berlin not-so-many years after WWII to try East Germans for hijacking an aircraft to freedom in the West. The movie misses a lot of the subtleties, but is detailed enough to give a good picture of the political climate at the time. A federal prosecutor, Judge Stern was selected to head this trial after many other judges resisted taking on this political "hot potato". The theory is that a Jewish judge in post-war Germany would go along with what was originally envisioned as a sort of "sham" trial intended to lead directly to convictions. Stern insisted that the defendants receive, according to the American Constitution, a trial by a jury of their peers --fellow Germans. An interesting concept for our country, which offically occupied West Berlin until the 1990s. Could conquerors try the conquered in occupied territory with a jury of their (conquered) peers? For anyone who is cynical of our position in the world arena as the unofficial "watchdog" of freedoms, this is a wonderful drama showing that justice will, if given the chance, win out. Highly recommended for anyone interested in our legal system or our nation's post-WWII history.
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