|Index||3 reviews in total|
While this film is described as being produced in 1948, the film that
is making the rounds in theaters in 2011, is a different remastered
version of that film, with a new translation that was produced by
Sandra Schulberg, the daughter of the original producer.
This second film, I'll call it the 2011 version, should have it's own place on IMDb. This is a new product that used the existing film that was in the public domain and is now copyrighted by it's producers. The translation and English narration is part of this 2011 version.
I saw the presentation of this film with a talk by the producer Ms. Schulberg, which was quite informative. However in the absence of such discourse, or explanation of the history of the film and the world between the time it was shot in 1946 and first released in Germany in 1948, this film has no context. It is an example of anti-German propaganda, that contains exaggerations and blatant distortions. For instance in spite of the films narration, Germany did not initiate the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.
As far as the film being suppressed as the advertisements claim, that is not quite accurate. it was not released, and was available for anyone who was interest to copy or to distribute for the last fifty or so years. It was not released because between the shooting and completion, Germany became our ally against the Soviet Union, and vilification was no longer in order.
As a beginning of discussion this film should be rated a ten, but in the absence of such dialog, it is an historical artifact of the value of propaganda, whether for good or for evil. This is not entertainment, and is painful to watch the graphic horrors of the Nazi era.
Watching this film can only be the beginning of a quest for understanding. Ms. Shulberg does have a web site that provides some of this context that I recommend as part of this experience.
"Nürnberg und seine Lehre" - the original title of this documentary -
is very compelling and well put together. Aside from the importance of
its contents, I must say that I was distracted by the poor quality of
the film. I was under the impression that it had been restored, but it
didn't seem like it. Most of the time, the heads of people were cut off
and the poor pronunciation of German names by Liev Schreiber, the
narrator, didn't help either. They should have picked someone more apt
to pronounce some of the more difficult names like Joachim von
Ribbentrop or Hjalmar Schacht.
However, the film is a crucial documentary as it gives inside to the key people of the so-called Third Reich and its demise. Germans who blindly followed Hitler find out at the end that they were lied to and betrayed by their Führer who broke all promises he ever made to them. Even though I don't have any sympathy for any of the Hitler followers, I was surprised by such statements. The film shows not only the crimes committed against 6 million Jews, but also the cruelties inflicted upon the Germans who were mentally ill or handicapped. They were deemed "useless eaters". It also shows the destruction WWII had brought to Europe. It's a painful reminder that dictators and war have no place in a free world.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Recently reissued with distracting new narration supplied by Liev Schreiber, this U.S. War Department documentary nonetheless remains an incredibly valuable and still relevant historical document. The introductory footage of European citizens emerging from the horrors of World War II is both beautiful and shocking, but the film is not a tale of recovery and rebuilding: it is a tale of justice renewed and restored. Blending footage shot during the trial of the major war criminals under the jurisdiction of the International Military Tribunal with Nazi-shot film recovered, ironically, by the OSS, the film provides a brief but damning summary of the crimes for which the suspects were charged. It is, in short, a bittersweet record of justice at its apex. Sixty years later, we live in very different times, when it is our own rulers who have committed crimes and spit in the face of international and national law and common decency. Nuremberg is a humbling reminder that it is incumbent on us all to do what we can, no matter how seemingly insignificant, to put our bodies upon the gears and try to stop the odious machine from operating. It is not enough to merely claim to be a good German, or a good American, or a good Briton; to look forward and not look back--to do so is to be complicit in our countries' crimes. If the reissue of this film can convince even a single person that the path of least resistance should not be taken, then the struggle for peace and freedom will have been well served. Kudos to Sandra Schulberg, daughter of director Stuart Schulberg, for restoring her father's film so all may see what true justice looks like.
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