6.2/10
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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.

Director:

Vicente Amorim

Writers:

C.P. Taylor (stage play), John Wrathall (screenplay)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Viggo Mortensen ... Halder
Jason Isaacs ... Maurice
Jodie Whittaker ... Anne
Steven Mackintosh ... Freddie
Mark Strong ... Bouhler
Gemma Jones ... Mother
Anastasia Hille ... Helen
Ruth Gemmell ... Elisabeth
Ralph Riach Ralph Riach ... Brunau
Steven Elder ... Eichmann
Kevin Doyle ... Commandant
David de Keyser David de Keyser ... Mandelstam
Guy Henry ... Doctor
Adrian Schiller ... Goebbels
Rick Warden ... Brownshirt
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Storyline

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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Anything that makes people happy can't be bad, can it?

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Germany | Hungary

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

11 December 2008 (Hungary) See more »

Also Known As:

El principio del mal See more »

Filming Locations:

Hungary See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£27,054 (United Kingdom), 19 April 2009, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,508, 4 January 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$23,091, 11 January 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital EX

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[Anne coughs from another room]
Halder: It's... it's another one of my students.
Helen: Oh.
Halder: Soaking wet, poor thing. Can't very well go home on a night like this.
Helen: Mm.
Halder: I've made up a bed.
Helen: [sighs] Will he be warm enough?
See more »

Soundtracks

Concentration Camp Band - Symphony No. 1 in D Major, 3rd movement
Written by Gustav Mahler
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not so Good
15 April 2009 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. The film has the look and feel of a something very important and memorable. Instead, it leaves the viewer feeling quite unsatisfied and actually a bit annoyed.

While a big fan of Viggo Mortensen, this is the first time I felt him over-acting, trying so hard to carry weak material to another level. His character is confused through much of the film, but it appears the actor himself was even more confused over how to create something from this mess. He is not helped by director Vicente Amorin, who is solid with individual shots, but haphazard with continuity and visual story telling.

Jason Isaacs, Jodie Whittaker (Venus) and the always super-cool Mark Strong provide support for the film and prevent it from being a total waste, but none of the material is strong enough to get the film to the level it portends.


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