This eagerly anticipated 2008 documentary is a disappointment. Although offering information about a dedicated craftsman, it fails to give a comprehensive overview of Veit Harlan's life or a clear outline of his relationship with the studio bosses.
A series of interviews with his wife, children and grandchildren elicits confusing details which this viewer struggled to put into chronological order. The director, or editors, seemed to enjoy withholding details about the different members of Harlan's extended family, the way William Faulkner holds back information about his anguished Southern families.
The Harlans comprise diverse and complex personalities - architect, actors, investigative journalist, painters - and, as highly intelligent and well-educated personalities, they presented diverse interpretations of their father's or grandfather's character and career. These figures provided more substance to the narrative than the intermittent story of Veit Harlan himself.
His allegedly infamous film "Jud Suss" seems very tame when judged by the sequences shown. Although the work of a craftsman, its melodrama is antiquated; and it might be time to remove it from the historical spotlight and consign it to "strictly film school". Clips from his other films make Harlan appear more interesting and innovative.
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