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I have read a few books on the Nuremberg trials, as well as books on
The Third Reich in general. Though the portrayals of the defendants
were fairly accurate, they were not given the appropriate amount of
air-time.I mean, without the defendants, there wouldn't have been a
trial. Here's the top 10 things that should have been added (and
especially subtracted from the movie.)
10) Should have emphasized the alliances between the defendants. Speer wasn't the only one to stand up to Goering. Von Schirach, Funk, and Fritzsche were all against Goering.
9) Give Defendent #2 Rudolf Hess more that four words.
8) Clarifiy why Hess goes crazy at the end.
7) Make sure the audience knows that Speer's penitence could be him saving his hide.
6) Emphasize that Franks conversion was due to him finding God.
5) Talk about the defendants personal lives, try to explain why they would commit these atrocities.
4) Tell what happened to the defendants who were acquitted or had their sentences carried out at Spandau.
3) They should of had the story include Von Schirach and Von Neurath, the youngest and the oldest defendants, so they would have more of a age perspective to the story.
2)All of the Defendants positions should have been named at least once.
1) The Jackson/Secretary affair probably took at'least a half an hour out of the mini-series, Which could have been dedicated to, I don't know, making sure the audience at least knows the defendant's's names. Besides, I don't now one person who saw that movie who actually liked the couple.
Hidden inside this purported battle between surviving top Nazi Hermann
Goering and American prosecutor Judge Robert Jackson is, I think, the
adaptation the writer probably wanted to do - the story of psychologist
E.M. Gilbert and his backstage verbal tusslings with men who either
refused to acknowledge any guilt (Goering, Streicher) or conversely
were overflowing with it (Frank, Speer).
When you see Alec Baldwin appear a second time in the credits, as Executive Producer, you feel that Nuremberg was probably conceived as a vanity project for him. Fortunately it is quite easy to let the early scenes of the Court's setup just wash over you, and of course Jill Hennessey is always easy on the eyes. Much of the first half of the first episode is more or less soap opera. Jackson has to persuade Judge Biddle to go to Nuremberg, then to relinquish the Presidency of the court to the British. The bantering relationship with his secretary (Hennessey) serves as a prelude to their becoming lovers during their time in Germany.
At this point Hermann Goering appears (the great Brian Cox on top form), totally dominating the trial, totally dominating this mini-series, and your attention is grasped and held. Cox almost wipes Baldwin off the screen. Unfortunately it's very hard not to gain a great deal of sympathy for Goering, particularly when he is with his family, or in the heart-to-heart chats with his G.I. prison guard, Tex. We see Goering as he undoubtedly saw himself, but in reality he wasn't like that at all. The Nuremberg trial and the general travails of imprisonment were an excellent opportunity for him to smarten himself up: prior to his arrest he had become a dissolute and overweight drug addict. Unfortunately no sign of this weakness of character was carried over into the script, leaving an impression of Goering as a noble, principled man - irrespective of whether you agreed with his principles.
Also very watchable was Matt Craven in the role of Gilbert the aforementioned psychologist, and Christopher Plummer as British prosecutor David Maxwell-Fyfe (although the real Maxwell-Fyfe was the younger prosecutor, not an elder mentor as depicted here). Particularly gratifying is the scene in which Maxwell-Fyfe tells Jackson that "your documentary approach is legally impeccable - but as drama it's absolutely stultifying" - which might stand as an apt description of Baldwin's part in this series.
A last little curiosity, and not to make any personal remarks about Herbert Knaup, but I did find it strange that they cast Knaup, a slightly odd-looking actor, to play Albert Speer, by fairly common consent the handsomest and most photogenic of all the Nazi leaders, particularly as Speer was portrayed here in a sympathetic light. Other than Knaup, many of the actors were very close in looks to their real-life counterparts, most notably Roc LaFortune as Rudolf Hess, almost a living double.
The primary complaint about this will probably be "it's too long". The
actual Nuremburg trils went on for much longer than three hours, however, so
imagine how much had to be left out!
Brian Cox is brilliant as Hermann Goering, portraying him as the vain and egotistical, yet clever and often easily likable person he could be, despite his history as one of the most horrible people of all time. Nuremburg goes beyond showing him as the faceless Nazi monster; as a proud soldier and pilot (he was head of the Luftwaffe during WW2, and in WW1, had been a decorated pilot himself), and a man capable of humor and kindness. Particularly powerful scenes include one towards the beginning when he entertains a group of GI's by playing the accordion and singing, and another towards the end, when his wife asks him if she can take home some of the food that had been provided for what would probably be his last meal, and he very "normally" says, "I don't see why not," and looks for someone to ask. The last scene must be viewed to fully understand what I mean.
The movie seems to have been made with historical correctness in mind. Small bits of fact that never would have been included in a big budget hollywood picture make it here, like the scene in which the defendants give their pleas, and Goering attempts to make a statement but is cut off by the judge. Also historically correct is the way in which Goering initially made the prosecutors, representing the allied forces, look like idiots, while he endeared himself to everyone in the room with his witty remarks.
The friendship between Goering and the American soldier "Tex" is also completely true, and the movie insinuates one of the two most popular explanations for how Goering got the cyanide ampule into his cell, despite the fact that it and he were searched regularly. Nuremburg seems to say that Goering asked his friend to retrieve a bag of personal items for him to go through and give away. The other belief is that the American knowingly brought the ampule to Goering, rather than Goering tricking him. The reality will probably never be completely known.
For history buffs, this is a must see. Probably for everyone else too...
`Nuremburg' is a chilling and disturbing look at the Nuremberg trial of
war criminals after WWII. The story is historically accurate and captures
the political and psychological climate of the times. It also serves as a
distressing reminder to a young generation that has not experienced war in
its lifetime of the horrors of which humanity is capable.
The film examines a number of fascinating angles of the trial. Instead of just focusing on the trial itself (of which there is plenty), it also offers a look at the political rivalry and infighting of the victorious nations, and a number of character studies of the prisoners. The most prominently portrayed of these is Hermann Göring (Brain Cox), Reich Marshall of the Third Reich and a member of Hitler's inner circle. Göring is portrayed as a cunning and charismatic adversary, who almost succeeds at making a sham of the entire trial.
The haunting question that must pervade anyone's mind that ponders the atrocities that occurred in WWII Germany is verbalised in the film by Elsie Douglas (Jill Hennessey). She says, `How could civilised human beings ever do that to other civilised human beings?', to which Justice Jackson (Alec Baldwin) replies, "Maybe civilization is overrated." This film provides some insight into the motivation of the German leaders, examining the warped perspective of the perpetrators who attempt to rationalise the horrors they committed to themselves and to the court. They point to the German sense of duty and obedience that is ingrained into their culture. After all, they were only following orders. There is also the undercurrent of Hitler's ruthlessness in using the SS to eliminate all opposition. In a particularly lucid moment, Göring says that if you look up and down the cellblock all you see is `yes men' because all the `no men' are six feet underground. Göring also points out the hypocrisy of the criticism of German hatred of the Jews by a U.S. society that interred millions of Japanese citizens, and tolerates segregation and hate-crimes against blacks.
Certainly, this is no justification for the systematic annihilation of 10 million of their own citizens, and as the film progresses a number of the prisoners begin to express deep remorse for their actions. Still, it shows that these weren't a group of sociopathic monsters in the conventional sense. They were otherwise normal men who had accomplished the inconceivable by dehumanising their victims to the point where the horrors they committed every day were no more disturbing to them than hunting deer to trim the herd. This is the most frightening thought of all, because it portends the possibility that such unthinkable acts could happen again. As long as we are able to believe that these men were a gaggle of homicidal maniacs, a freak societal aberration, we can reassure ourselves that this couldn't ever recur. However, when it dawns on us that normal people are able to rationalize such behaviour, we realise that under the right circumstances the potential for such inhumanity always exists. Complacency is an inadvertent ally of oppression, and this film should shock even the most casual viewer out of it. In this regard, it is instructive and enlightening.
The direction by Yves Simoneau is excellent and rises well above his mostly TV credits. The mood of the period is realistically rendered with a great deal of period accuracy. The costumes and period props are excellent with an eye for detail. He does an outstanding job creating background reaction shots, especially among the prisoners, that show their sarcastic disdain for their captors and display their smug superiority. He brings great power to numerous scenes using various camera angles. The holocaust footage used is some of the most disconcerting and inclusive I have ever seen. If there is any criticism to be leveled against the crafting of this film, it is that it delved too deeply into minutia, especially the sexual undercurrents between Jackson and Elsie Douglas. However, given the fact that it was produced as a TNT miniseries, the director was forced to fluff it up for the additional runtime.
The acting is also outstanding. Alec Baldwin gives a solid performance as Robert Jackson, a man obsessed with justice. Baldwin has never been known for his passion, but he elevates his game in certain parts of this film. Jill Hennessey is also excellent as Elsie, rendering her as a tough and smart woman who is a guiding force in the entire proceeding. However, by far the best performance is delivered by Brain Cox as Göring. His is a brilliant and complex performance that brings the reprehensible and magnetic Nazi leader to life in a way that is both attractive and loathsome. Colm Feore also gives a spine tingling performance as Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, who cavalierly discusses the efficiency techniques of eliminating prisoners, with the cold precision of an industrial engineer.
This terrific drama rises far above its TV roots. I rated it a 9/10. It is important viewing which reminds us that we cannot become complacent about tyranny, and we must be ever vigilant to guard against its recurrence.
My first impression of this film was that it was excellently done. It
provoked my curiosity and I am glad to say the film held up under my further
investigation of the trials.
The accurate representation of the grayness of a subject most would consider black and white was particularly courageous. It would be easy to paint the Nazis as monsters without souls, but so often terrible things are done by perfectly ordinary people. In fact that is what is so terrible about people's actions in WWII. Malevolence would certainly be easier to accept than what this film shows was at the source of the Nazi behavior -- indifference and lack of empathy. Who hasn't felt indifference toward someone they met in everyday life, the cashier who was too slow, the person in the car ahead, the telemarketer?
The acting was excellent, particularly Brian Cox, who showed us how well charm can mask evil. I did not think Goering was white-washed. This was shown most clearly in his pathetic attempt to shrug off the concentration camp film. Even his manipulative skill couldn't ease that shock, and his American friend was silent. If Alex Baldwin pumped up his drama a little, well, take a look at transcripts of the trial, which are drier than the Sahara. The use of documents was extensive during the trial and how often does the layperson want to hear that? The use of the concentration camp film was a cold dash of water in the face of such dryness. Some other comments question the inclusion of the relationship between Jackson and his secretary. I didn't see it as a "love story", but more as an "adultery story" used to show on a more personal level that despite his side's claim to superior "morals" Jackson was also weak. I think the Soviet involvement and the Polish massacre was left out because it would have been too long to include in all its convolutions. It is an interesting part of the story, however, so I recommend researching it.
I was glad to see on the comments that those who know more than I pointed out its accuracy. Too rarely does Hollywood actually attempt that.
I was only a teenager when the Nuremberg trials began, and
(as most other people throughout the world) had very little true knowledge
of the horror stories of the victims of Nazi atrocities. When the truth
burst upon the world, many people could not believe what they saw. (Some
neo-nazi fools still deny
This is not an easy film to watch, especially with actual films of the frightful deathcamps, but one is drawn into the story because it was such a momentous event - that the major Allies of WWII united to have fair and open trials not just of single criminals, but of an evil governmental system.
Alec Baldwin has done a magnificent job in his role as Robert Jackson, who was the Chief Prosecutor. I wish I could thank him, as co-producer of this fine mini-series, for such a vivid rendering of those years.
Yes, there are still horrors being perpetrated on innocent victims in many parts of the world today, but the world IS watching, and in many cases, is resisting these evil governments.
I suggest that it is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE that young people today watch this film. Too many young (and many older) people think of WWII as only a rather heroic glorious time; I want them to know what some human beings were doing to other innocent victims. Believe me it is NOT boring. Yes, there were many, many heroes. I know. I married a young man who had fought with the Greek resistance movement and suffered greatly, but his spirit, as that of many others, could not be conquered. We must not forget!
In 1945, after the end of the World War II with the defeat of a ruined
Germany, the Allies decide to give a fair trial to twenty-one Nazi
leaders POW as an example of intolerance of the governments against
hideous atrocities in war. The defendants are accused crimes of war and
against humanity, and the American Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson
(Alec Baldwyn) is assigned to organize an international tribunal at
Nuremberg with representatives from France, Russia and England. The
prisoners under the leadership of Hitler's second-in-command Marshall
Hermann Goering (Brian Cox) dispute the control in a juridical battle
in the courtroom.
"Nuremberg" is an irregular movie about the trial of criminals of war in Nuremberg. The movie has great moments, with footages from the concentration camps; the strong performance of Brian Cox; the dialog about racism and anti-Semitism between Goering and Capt. Gustav Gilbert; and the reconstitution of the destroyed German city. However, in many moments the story recalls a soap-opera, changing the focus of the trial to melodramatic and shallow situations. Further, Alec Baldwyn has a weak performance in the role of a powerful authority. Last but not the least, the movie is very cold, and with the exception of the footages of the concentration camps, it brings no emotion to the viewer. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Julgamento em Nuremberg" ("Trial in Nuremberg")
American movies about war and Nazis simply cannot be good. They can not refrain from becoming idiot and following an agenda. All Nazis are bad, crazy, too proud, and Americans are so modest yet so capable and sensible and human. Come on, stop this bullshit. The main character says something like "by this trial, we have to make aggressive war a crime". Is America a peaceful nation with its world #1 $420 billion "defense" budget (#2 China with just $51b)? Is it simply spent in this without any... ROI? Why portray America as a peaceful nation when it isn't? I deeply dislike movies with an agenda - they throw art to hell and try to persuade us into believing something. Hollywood should put a label on movies, just as record companies have that "parental advisory" label. We should have a "bullshit advisory", "propaganda advisory" or a "politically correct advisory" label on some movies. This is one of them.
This is a strange subject for a modern TV series designed to entice an audience to whom World War II is as distant as the Pelopenesian Wars. Yet this is a tough, well produced, historically accurate and thoroughly compelling film. Brian Cox steals the show with a masterful recreation of Hermann Goering as a beguiling rogue. And the production techniques excel, for example the sound track as silent film of the concentration camps is shown to the trial. It puts the horror in context without exploiting it or sensationalizing it. A brilliant piece of historical film making.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a graduate student doing my thesis on the Nuremberg Trials and so
for the past few months I've been immersed in the transcripts, diaries
and all the different interpretations of the Trials.
I think that the documentary is actually a very good representation of what happened. The most striking aspect of it was the visual side of things. The locations were perfect, with the reconstruction of a bombed-out Nuremberg as well as the courtroom being absolutely perfect. As well as this, the actors playing the defendants looked remarkably similar to their real life characters and had clearly studied their mannerisms and facial tics. Streicher's excessive chewing, Jodl's upright posture and Hess' craziness were all really well represented- attention to detail was clearly a priority in the casting.
I am prepared to put aside minor artistic licenses they took with the plot- not giving the minor characters many lines (although I think they did well to introduce them all at one point). I think they did well to include most of the 'highlights' of the trial (the trial itself was mostly a dull affair, partly due to Jackson's insistence on using documentary evidence, as was touched upon in the film), whilst at the same time staying very faithful to what happened in the courtroom. The differing tales of how they all ended up in the dock (Frank being roughed up by the Soviets, Goering and Speer coming from relative opulence in the American Zone) are well represented, as are some of the challenges concerned with the trial. For me, what carries this performance is both the brilliant cinematography and attention to detail, as well as the performance of Brian Cox and Hermann Goring. He conveyed his personality, from his playful humour to his shocking lack of regret brilliantly and really mastered his character in a way which is very rare to see. Honorable mentions also to Sam Stone (as Streicher), Roc LaFortune (as Hess), Colm Feore (as Rudolf Hoss, whose testimony was brilliantly chilling) and also to Christopher Plummer, who really captured the dry wit and legal mastery of Maxwell-Fyfe.
However despite it being mostly excellent, there are a few problems I had with the film: 1) The romantic sup-plot between Jackson and his secretary Elsie Douglas was ridiculous. Not only was it patently unture, it added nothing to the plot. There are so many more interesting avenues that could have been explored within the US prosecution case (eg the fact that many of them were not on speaking terms due to disagreements about the merits of documentary vs witness evidence).
2) The film totally overplayed and built up Robert Jackson. In reality, his cross-examination of Goering was seen to have been a total flop. Although he did pick it up by the end, it didn't redeem what was a really poor performance; probably because Jackson was actually a Supreme Court judge and had little experience of it. It was felt to David Maxwell-Fyfe to rescue the prosecution case with one of the best cross-examinations in history, something that wasn't really mentioned in the film. Jackson was well aware he'd made a mess of it and was in an awful mood for the rest of the Trials, frequently quarrelling with the Tribunal. His opening and closing statements were very good though. On a physical level, Jackson was a short, bespetacled man, not an Alec Baldwin type at all!!
3)The film also made the Soviets look like idiots, which really wasn't the case in reality. While the Soviet judge took occasional orders from Moscow (such as the dissenting judgement), during the trial and the London Conference he was actually pretty fair and reasonable. The Soviet prosecutors were also competent and did a good job.
And there are some things left out which I think were worthy of inclusion:
1) The case of Karl Doenitz. This was a very interesting case, in which it was established that Doenitz behaved no differently to the American or British admiralties, however still broke the law. This was a very interesting case which raised all kinds of moral issues about 'victor's justice' and would have been interesting to bring up.
2) There were actually some fairly humorous elements in what was a fairly slow-moving trial which could have been good to include instead of the romantic strand. An example was the arrival of a Russian government member, who at a meeting with the judges proposed a toast to the 'speedy death of all the defendants'. The judges toasted without hearing the translation and were pretty annoyed afterwards! A fairly cruel joke that could have been quite funny if put on the screen. Also, there was the comic scene of Hess sitting through a hearing on whether he was fit to stand trial or not (after he'd been claiming to have amnesia for weeks). Just as the judge was about to deliver the verdict (and probably call him insane), Hess rose and declared himself sane and says he was putting it on all the time. The court collapsed in laughter with no-one sure what to say. I feel this could have been included, whilst still leaving ambiguity about whether he was putting it on or not.
3) I was surprised more wasn't made of the process of actually coming to a judgement. There was some very interesting compromises and trade offs made behind the scenes which could have been worth inclusion. It would certainly have explained the inconsistencies such as Sauckel being sentenced to death, whereas Speer had his life spared. Also, the fact that the Soviet judge dissented from a few of the judgements could have been highlighted.
On the whole it was excellent and the most accurate portrayal of Nuremberg I've ever seen, but I can't help thinking with a few tweaks it could have been a true classic.
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