20 April 2010 | ma-cortes
Magnificent film based on actual events with top-notch performances by all star cast
A stimulating portrayal of the Nuremberg trials in which members of the German judiciary were brought to response their crimes in the immediate post-war period.The movie initiates with scenes of Nuremberg, Germany, 1948. The destruction of the war is clear everywhere. Judge Haywood(Spencer Tracy) is driven through the rotten buildings. Judge Hayward along with two other judges (Ray Teal, Kednneth Mackenna), to preside over the trial of Ministry of Justice, judges and Nazi prosecutors for their complicity in Third Reich. Hayward is helped by his assistant Harrison (William Shatner). In its opening declaration , the prosecution (an excellent prosecutor played by Richard Widmark) calls these defendants to account not for violation of due process or other constitutional violations but for killings, tortures, and cruelties committed during WWII. The accuser statements that the accused cannot claim ignorance that they should have known better for their high position and knowledges.Defender Hans Rolfe (Maximilian Schell) counsel's opening statement he declares that the aim of this judgment is the reestablishment of the code of justice with honor and innocence, because of judges don't make the laws . He argues the disobedience to the Fuehrer would have been choice between patriotism and treason for the justices with the subsequent firing squad. Finally the defending explains that not only are the judges on trial, so are the German people.One of the more dramatic portions of the film centers around Judge Janning's (Burt Lancaster) performance during the Feldenstein case (in real life, the Katzenberger case). Fedlenstein was charged with race mixing, of having relations with an Aryan, Irene Hoffman (Judy Garland). The trial was to be used as a showcase for National Socialism. Emil Hahn (Werner Kemplerer) had been the accuser and he was determined to find Feldenstein guilty despite evidence that he had merely been a family friend to Irene Hoffman. Hahn had told Irene that it was no use to deny having relations. That if she protected Feldenstein she would be arrested for perjury. She said she couldn't lie and was arrested. She said that Emil Hahn mocked Feldenstein, ridiculed him. Janning had been the presiding judge and he took no action to prevent the injustice. He had been the only hope for the defense since he had a reputation for being fair. Feldenstein was found guilty and executed.Prosecutor Lawson (Richard Widmark) submitted documents by which the judges and prosecutors had sent thousands to their deaths. A film was shown , a short-documentary is based on real events by means of photographs and stock-footage. As appears work camps are transformed into extermination centers to implement the policy of genocide thought at the Wannsee Conference . At the concentration camps was some minor industrial activity linked to the war effort but the main work was the execution of inmates.Millions of prisoners died in the concentration camps through mistreatment, disease, starvation, and overwork, or were executed as unfit for labor. More than six million Jews died in them, usually in gas chambers, although many were killed in mass shootings and by other means . As the documentary showed a gas chamber at Dachau , but it is a mistake because of it was never used, prisoners died from mistreatment or from execution by means other than gas. The archival footage shows tattooed skin , but Buchenwald prisoners with unusual tattoos were killed , then their skin was preserved for the tattoo collection of convicted war criminal Ilse Koch. Defense counsel speaks to the content of the films shown the previous day. He states that there is no justification for what happened, but, that it was wrong and unfair to show such films in court against these defendants. He claims that the extremists are responsible, not the defendants. He says that very few Germans knew what was going on. He claimed that the defendants stayed in their positions to keep things from getting worse. The defending then calls Irene Hoffman. In this unseemly portion of the defense, the defense counsel tries to portray Irene Hoffman as a law breaker and Judge Janning as merely doing his duty. The hypocrisy is evident and seems to bother even defense counsel Rolfe. Yet he continues to badger Irene, trying to break her down, to show that she did in fact have an affair with Feldenstein. Janning interrupts him and stops him from continuing.The next day Janning testifies about the Feldenstien case. He tells that there was fear in the country. That Hitler told the people to lift their heads. That once the gypsies, Jewish, and others were destroyed all would be well.Janning was content to sit by during his trial until he realized the same arguments were being used in this trial in his defense that had been used in the Feldenstien trial. Janning denies that Germans were unaware of the exterminations. He says that all were aware of what was going on, maybe not the details, but only because they did not want to know the details.Judge Hayward affirms the value of a single human life, and the responsibility of the justices, and by implication the German people, for their actions and inaction.
This graphic account of the Nuremberg trials were immediately brought to book and subsequently adapted by Stanley Kramer in ¨Playhouse ¨ style. Judge Haywood is perfectly played by Spencer Tracy, he gives us the uneasy feeling that the German people never really came to terms with their innocence or guilty. This film takes the point of view that Germany, at the time of the picture was realized, was moving beyond the war a little too fast, and was doing so with the help of the US and other allies because of the Cold War. For his passionated acting of the defending advocate Maximilian Schell won an Oscar as the years's best player and special mention Montgomery Clif, also uncredited as screenwriter. Rating : Excellent, better than average.