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judgment at nuremberg…

September 23, 2006

sounds cheesy but this movie “judgment at nuremberg” has the real all-superstar casting… starring spencer tracy, burt lancaster, maximillian schell, richard widmark, marlene dietrich, judy garland and montgomery clift… directed by stanley kramer and shot by ernest laszlo… as you might be able to guess from the title, this movie is about the trial of nazi judges at nuremberg that took place two years after the second world war was over…
sounds heavy, right…? and yes, the movie is damn heavy… not only because of the subject matter and the length (a bit longer than 3 hours) but also how these characters all interact and clash with each other… it’s a real human drama asking a simple yet hard question about human nature and the meaning of justice…
ok, let’s start with the simple things… all the actors in the movie are just brilliant… spencer tracy, who i sometimes find too intense(!), portrays the american judge, who has to call the tough decision after trying to see things through basic morality as a human being, with such calm yet strong conviction… burt lancaster with very limited lines plays the nazi judge who thought he stayed with nazi regime in order to carry out his belief and save people yet begins to realized that he failed, with such a fiery and solemn dignity… richard widmark plays the prosecutor with pure idealism but faces the reality of the other “practical” reasons why america and other allies went into the war… maximillian schell plays the german defense attorney who wants to put not only the germans but all the rest under the trial… marlene dietrich’s german widow of a high ranking officer who claims that most of germans didn’t know and were not all monsters like nazis and hitler… judy garland, oh, judy, gets the most emotional part in the movie… a german girl who didn’t give up on her basic morality and ended up suffering… and montgomery clift played another german victim who was sterilized because his father was communist with such a heartbreaking emotional weight…
all these characters are so strong and real presentation of what it probably was like… and the screenplay is just so superb in bringing out the essence of all the different point of views and characters and made them all so appealing…
and the footage of concentration camps were so powerful and provoking and leaving you with the ultimate question…
how could they let this happen…?
if you have seen “downfall” which was one of the best movies came out last year, you would understand, at least have an idea of the mentality that was hovering in germany after the death of hitler and revelation of the holocaust and all… many of them declared that they just didn’t know how horrific it was and they wouldn’t have gone along if only they knew… like marlene dietrich’s character in this movie or like the young secretary in “downfall”… after all they are humans just like all of us… it was hitler and only those horrible nazis who were in power…
however does it really justify the actions that the german people did not take…?

many of us might be saying the same thing about what’s happening all over the world right now… it’s not only the questions to germans or japanese after the world war II… the same things is happening right now… so many things we decide to look away so we can tell ourselves that we just didn’t know how bad it was…
maybe it’s time to ask ourselves some questions… and take little steps on our own other than waiting for someone else to do it for us…

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