John Halder, a German literature professor in the 1930s, is initially reluctant to accept the ideas of the Nazi Party. He is pulled in different emotional directions by his wife, mother, mistress and Jewish friend.
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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
When Goebbels congratulates Halder at the filming of Halder's movie, he walks normally and very jovially. Real Goebbels had a deformed right foot, turned inwards and shorter than the left, needing a metal brace on his leg. Therefore, he walked with a pronounced limp, never with the energy and agility he shown in the film. See more »
[Halder eats the cheesecake that Maurice gave him]
Where are you going to get proper Jewish cheesecake when you've locked up all the Jews, eh? Unless you give a special dispensation to Epstein's.
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What have I done? What have I done? You can imagine that Professor John Halder (Viggo Mortensen) was asking that question over and over.
He seemed not to understand what was happening to him as he let himself be used by the Nazi's. First, he joins the party, then he loses his lifelong friend simply because he was Jewish. It was only when he was picked to inspect the death camps did he come to a full realization of the depths into which he had sunk.
How do you cook a lobster? If you throw it into a pot of boiling water it will scream and jump out. But, if you put it in water and slowly raise the temperature, it boils before it knows what/s happening. Professor Halder was put in tepid water and the temperature raised gradually until the shock hit him full force, and he could not escape.
Mortensen was very good, but his friend Morris (Jason Isaacs), a Jew, was excellent.
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