Friday, August 12, 2016


Editorial Reviews

Synopsis:- Europe, 1945. The war is over, but the battle for justice is about to begin. Twenty-one members of the Nazi high command stand in a charged courtroom inside Nuremberg's Palace of Justice. Twenty-one pleas of Not Guilty are entered. Will the trial of these notorious men be a forum for Allied vengeance or a quest for justice. Based on Joseph E. Persico's acclaimed book Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial and featuring momentous dialogueGoering's guard "Tex" taken from case transcripts, Nuremberg is a compelling courtroom drama about the post-World War II Trial of the Century. Alec Baldwin, Jill Hennessy, Christopher Plummer, Brian Cox and Max von Sydow star in this vivid work filled with intellectual fire and righteous courage.

To the mind of many historical observers, nothing so defines the striking manifest differences between the horrific nature of the Third Reich from the more rational and compassionate constitutional democracies that largely comprised the Allies as the way in which the defendants of the trials at Nuremberg were handled. With painstaking precision (and at extraordinary cost in terms of international arm-twisting and back-door deals), the proponents of a judicial proceeding designed to illustrate the manifest individual guilt of the various Nazi officials forged a result that still stands today as a model of a non-retributive effort in the face of extraordinary pressure. In this carefully reearched and terrifically presented movie depiction of the events, one comes to appreciate the problems facing the Allies in proceeding with the trials.
And while one can hardly describe the Nuremberg trials as unflawed or perfect, they did prove to the world that the Allies were willing to subscribe to the existing canon of law to judge the actions of the Nazis.
Doing so was anything but easy, Indeed, achieving a fair result that would literally convince the watching world of the guilt of the participants in the war was anything but easy, and moving toward that deliberate goal is a theme providing an interesting theme punctuating the pace of the book. Churchill wanted revenge by way of summary trials and quick retribution, while the Russians just wanted to string up the whole group in a mass hanging. Yet American Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson (Alex Baldwin) was able to resolve the differences well enough to proceed, although at times the viewer wonders if the trials will be anything like the fair-minded judicial event he has in mind.
Still, the efforts at conducting a fair and open forum for the world to watch as the prosecution and defense teams clashed before the international tribunal prevailed, and the trials concluded with mixed results in terms of the results. Most of the defendants were found guilty, and many were hanged.
Yet few observers doubted that the defendants had had their day in court along with and adequate opportunity to defend their actions to a watching world. Given how little justice and liberty they collectively allowed for their tens of millions of victims, it is remarkable just how civilized and dignified a proceeding the Nuremberg trials were, with all their theatrics and subterranean undercurrents.One marvels at the fact that after fifty years the world still stands in awe at the deliberate, careful, and methodical way in which the Allies achieved the result of a rational and fair trial of the defendants in history's most horrific modern nightmare, the terror of the Third Reich. This is an interesting and absorbing film presentation, and it is fascinating and entertaining to watch. It was also particularly interesting to me because it explores the lives of each of the defendants in looking at their individual guilt. I recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about these singular trials and their impact on history.
By givbatam3 on October 19, 2005
Format: DVD
The other reviewers have pointed out the importance of this film, so I would like to make a few points that may be important.

(1) As in so many Western films, the Russians (or, actually, Soviets) are a caricature-they are portrayed as uncouth louts.

I wasn't happy with the scene of the party at Jackson's house where the German butler and his wife refuse to serve the Russian judge because their son was killed on the Russian front.

Jackson's secretary tries to calm the situation without showing any understanding of the Russian's response that most of the victims of Nazism's horrors were residents of the USSR, simply dismissing it as politics. In reality, everyone admitted that the Soviet role in the trial was basically fair and constructive, in spite of the fact that the Soviet judges were totally under the thumb of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin who really was no better than Hitler and his Nazis whom they were supposed to be judging.

(2) Albert Speer is portrayed as a truly penitent Nazi technocrat. Many people, including Airey Neave (the British officer who presented the indictments and who was tragically murdered by the Irish Republican Army in 1979) felt that it was unfair to execute Nazi Labor chief Sauckel and to let Speer off to become a prosperous, professional "ex-Nazi" when all Sauckel did was round up laborers for Speers armaments industries. Speer does admit that he was always pressuring Sauckel for more laborers, but Neave and others feel that his remorse for what he did was mainly to get sympathy from the judges and that he never really confronted his own, direct personal responsibility for the horrors of the Nazi regime, rather than just the collective responsibility he accepted.

(3) Although judge Francis Biddle is shown to be a rather petty man, the film doesn't make clear that both he and Justice Jackson were miscast in their roles in the trial, because Biddle had a career as a prosecutor but was chosen by President Truman to be a Judge in the trial, whereas Jackson was a Supreme Court Justice yet was chosen to be a prosecutor in the trial.

(4) The film, probably correctly, leaves the role of Goering's guard "Tex" as ambiguous in his enabling Goering to get ahold of the cynanide capsule in order to cheat the hangman. It is not clear even today whether Tex really wanted to help Goering get the capsule, or whether it was just negligence and disobeyal of orders when he brought Goering the belongings he asked for.

(5) Psychiatrist Capt Gustav Gilbert's great "revelation" in discovering that the reason the Nazis did such terrible things was "a lack of empathy" is certainly over-simplistic. Although it is true that they were indifferent to the suffering they caused, this does not explain how they managed to set up an industrialized mass-murder machine and how they got much of Europe to at least passively accept the Holocaust.
Many people are indifferent to the suffering of others, but that doesn't mean they go out and deliberately cause suffering to their neighbors.

Having said these things, I still think everyone should see this film to understand the greatest tragedy of the 20th century-the Second World War.

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