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Taking Sides (2001)

 -  Drama | Music | War  -  7 March 2002 (Germany)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,559 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 39 user | 39 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

A tale based on the life of Wilhelm Furtwangler, the controversial conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic whose tenure coincided with the controversial Nazi era. One of the most spectacular ... See full summary »

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Title: Taking Sides (2001)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Lt. David Wills
Birgit Minichmayr ...
Emmi Straube
...
Helmut Alfred Rode, 2nd violinist
Oleg Tabakov ...
Colonel Dymshitz
Hanns Zischler ...
Rudolf Otto Werner, oboist
...
Schlee, timpanist
...
August Zirner ...
Captain Ed Martin
Daniel White ...
Sergeant Adams
Thomas Thieme ...
Reichsminister
...
Colonel Green
...
Major Richards
Robin Renucci ...
Captain Vernay
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Storyline

A tale based on the life of Wilhelm Furtwangler, the controversial conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic whose tenure coincided with the controversial Nazi era. One of the most spectacular and renowned conductors of the 30s, Furtwangler's reputation rivaled that of Toscanini's. After the war, he was investigated as part of the Allies' de-Nazification programme. In the bombed-out Berlin of the immediate post-war period, the Allies slowly bring law and order--and justice--to bear on an occupied Germany. An American major is given the Furtwangler file, and is told to find everything he can and to prosecute the man ruthlessly. Tough and hard-nosed, Major Steve Arnold sets out to investigate a world of which he knows nothing. Orchestra members vouch for Furtwangler's morality--he did what he could to protect Jewish players from his orchestra. To the Germans, deeply respectful of their musical heritage, Furtwangler was a demigod; to Major Arnold, he is just a lying, weak-willed Nazi. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

major | nazi | orchestra | german | germany | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Music | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

7 March 2002 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Taking Sides  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$22,051 (USA) (5 September 2003)

Gross:

$188,952 (USA) (12 March 2004)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

In one of the library scenes the boom mic and the arm holding it are clearly visible. See more »

Connections

Edited into Taking Sides Again (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

1ST & 4TH MOVEMENTS
(from SYMPHONY NO.5 C MINOR, OP.67)
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven
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User Reviews

 
A complicated historical episode
7 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I came to this film with a detailed knowledge of the actual historical events. Many viewers will most likely be largely unfamiliar with the complexities of the case, and there are some details which are important, but glossed over.

For example: there are frequent references in the dialogue to Furtwängler's rival, Herbert von Karajan ("Little K.") Why did the Americans attack Furtwängler, and not von Karajan, who was an ardent Nazi? Furtwängler was prevented from conducting in the U.S., while von Karajan was lionized. Perhaps the makers of this film thought that the implications of this were too big to be discussed in the film. I'm sure that they didn't even want to go near the fact that the people who ran the de-nazification program were Americans with close ties to the Nazis themselves.

Also, Furtwängler's rationale for staying in Germany was somewhat more philosophical than the film implies. He thought he was defending the legacy of Mozart, Beethoven et al against the Nazis, and that this was a sacred responsibility. A bit of this comes out in the film, but in a superficial way.

With respect to the success of the film otherwise, Stellan Skarsgaard is excellent as Furtwängler, even managing to resemble him somewhat. I think that Harvey Keitel is somewhat hampered by the script -- the film would have been more successful if Keitel had come off as more conflicted and less one-dimensional. Clearly the director wished to imply that Keitel was conflicted, but that, as a military man, he was required to toe the line -- the frequent shots of Army indoctrination films (about how bad the Germans were) were intended to provide a rationale for Keitel's behavior. But the film would have been more compelling if Keitel were given an opportunity to express more doubts about what he was being asked to do. I also thought that the ending was a bit anticlimactic.


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