The rise of national socialism in Germany should not be regarded as a conspiracy of madmen. Millions of "good" people found themselves in a society spiralling into terrible chaos. A film about then, which illuminates the terrors of now.
In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
John Halder is a 'good' and decent individual with family problems: a neurotic wife, two demanding children and a mother suffering from senile dementia. A literary professor, Halder explores his personal circumstances in a novel advocating compassionate euthanasia. When the book is unexpectedly enlisted by powerful political figures in support of government propaganda, Halder finds his career rising in an optimistic current of nationalism and prosperity. Seemingly inconsequential decisions lead to choices, which lead to more choices... with eventually devastating effect. Written by
The music played at the end by the Jewish prisoners is Gustav Mahler's first symphony, third movement. This movement uses as one of its themes a parody of the popular children song "Frère Jacques", and the whole symphony borrows heavily from one of Mahler's song cycles, Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen. The last song, "Die zwei blauen Augen" (The two blue eyes) can be heard sometimes during the movie, as in the end of the movie shoot and as part of the symphony's movement being played. See more »
In the scene, when Halder takes a walk with his ex-wife in the cemetery, which is supposed to be in Berlin, Germany, Hungarian names are clearly visible on the gravestones. See more »
I was quite disappointed by the role played by Viggo Mortensen; he could not make me believe that he was resisting anyhow the fate which was getting hold on him. Of course I have no experience with such problems as being intellectually and morally paralyzed by the political repression of societies like the Third Reich, but at least I expected an actor as Mortensen -who played an thrilling role in A History of Violence- to be able to show something more of a battle a conscience has to fight with the reality of his time like Brandauer demonstrated in Mephisto. But of course it's possible that his role was to be plain obedient and thus weak like many Germans must have been, because discipline was not only moral obligation to the state but also a political one to the nation. Only, even than he didn't convince me.
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