30 January 2012 | Andy-296
Interesting biopic; shows the protagonist in a surprising negative light
This interesting early talkie from 1934 is a biopic of Nathan Rothschild, the British-German-Jewish banker from the times of Napoleon that is considered one of the founders of international finance. Rothschild is famous among many things from making a fortune in the London Stock exchange by speculating successfully on Wellington's victory over Napoleon at Waterloo (this is in this film, though apparently according to recent historians it probably never happened).
Rothschild, as portrayed in the film by George Arliss, is not a very likable person: unabashedly ethnocentric (he is adamant that his daughter must not marry a gentile suitor), he is always ready to take offense, views almost every non-Jew as anti-Semitic, is willing to use money to exercise power, etc. Probably because of this, the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels was an unlikely fan of this film, releasing an edited version in Germany (that emphasized the most negative aspects of the protagonist) and in 1940 he used an unauthorized clip from this film in the infamous anti-Semitic documentary "The Eternal Jew" and also had his own German remake, "The Rothschild's shares in Waterloo". The German film, by the way, despite its obvious propaganda intentions, is well made and has a literate, intelligent script. In a way, Rothschild is a more sympathetic character in the German film than in the Hollywood version! The Hollywood film is also notable for the last scene (in which Rothschild is knighted by the King) being shot in an early Technicolor process.