After the end of World War II, a famous German conductor is accused of loyalty to the Nazi regime. He argues that art and politics are separate. An investigator thinks otherwise.After the end of World War II, a famous German conductor is accused of loyalty to the Nazi regime. He argues that art and politics are separate. An investigator thinks otherwise.After the end of World War II, a famous German conductor is accused of loyalty to the Nazi regime. He argues that art and politics are separate. An investigator thinks otherwise.
This is the most rewarding exploration of guilt and innocence since Dead Man Walking, and provides a feast of provocative food for the mind, interlaced with stunning musical interludes.
I loved everything about this movie. I forgave it's visual staginess including the unreal scenes of bombed-out Berlin seen through the windows, because what was taking place in the foreground was so intensely engaging and gripping. Based on a true story, and set at the time of the Nuremberg trials following WWII, Taking Sides is the tale of US Denazification investigator, Major Steve Arnold's (Harvey Keitel) mission to establish the guilty association of renowned Berlin conductor, Dr. Wilhelm Furtwangler (Stellan Skarsgard) with the Nazis. When other artists left Germany under the Third Reich, Furtwangler stayed on to become Hitler's favourite, conducting his orchestra at the Nurenberg Rally and at Hitler's birthday. Yet he had become a hero to the German people, because of his famous refusal to give the Nazi salute to Hitler himself after the birthday performance; as well as his reputation for assisting the escape from Germany of several Jewish musicians. In a relentless confrontation with Furtwangler and his defenders, Arnold casts an unblinking light on the common human motives - fear and personal ambition - behind Furtwangler's 'heroism' - and behind the inaction of the innumerable German people who claimed ignorance as a justification for their inaction in the face of Nazi evil. Everyone in Germany, it seems, hid Jews and assisted their escape. But what were they hiding Jews from, what was it they were protecting Jews from, asks Arnold, if they did not know what was happening? It is a universal question that confronts each of us, as viewers, for our every failure to take action in the face of injustice. Yet Furtwangler's defence - that art must be above politics, and that his music was was needed by his people to remind them of the sublime possibilities of the human spirit - finds passionately sympathetic support from Arnold's own young assistants, Jewish American, Lt. David Wills (Moritz Bleibtreu), and Emmi Graube (Birgit Minichmayr). How can an outsider possibly know what it was like? asks Emmi of Arnold. What right do you have to judge who was right and who was wrong? A complex dilemma with a complex resolution, an array of rich characterisations and splendid musical interludes combine to make this one of the most deeply rewarding cinematic experiences possible to the idea-famished mind.
- Nov 30, 2002
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