After World War II ended, the top Nazis were put on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, which was where the Nazis put on their huge propaganda gatherings. The trials went on for several years, but the Nazi stars, led by Herman Goering, and including Rudolf Hess, Wilhelm Keitel, Erich Raeder, Franz von Papen, Joachin von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Albert Speer, Julius Streicher, Alfred Jodl, Ernst Kalterbrunner and Hans Frank, were tried en masse first, in 1946.
Unfortunately, famed director John Ford’s OSS War Crimes film team was too busy putting together the evidence for the trial, so the filming was left to the Army Signal Corps, which only filmed 25 hours of the 10 ½ month trial. The U.S. War Department turned it into a feature written and directed by Stuart Schulberg, who was a veteran of Ford’s team.
The completed film was distributed in Germany in 1948 and 1949, but Democrat politics in the Truman Administration prevented it from being released to American audiences. As a result, a Soviet film of the trial was distributed and seen throughout the world while the American film was left to rot.
Because the original negative and sound were lost or destroyed, Sandra Schulberg, Stuart’s daughter and the niece of Budd Schulberg (What Makes Sammy Run), and Josh Waletzky made a new 35 mm negative from the German Bundesarchiv’s best lavender print and reconstructed the soundtrack using original sound taken at the trial. The fact that the sound was reconstructed and put together with the film separately is obvious because the sound and pictures of the people in the film, like lead American prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson, are not synchronized. Despite that, we do get to hear Jackson’s memorable opening and closing statements as well as some of the testimony of the German defendants.
While the story of how this film finally got made and distributed is as interesting as the film itself, this is a damning story of the Nazis and their atrocities throughout their 12 years of power. Narrated by Liev Schrieber, it tells the story of the Nazi era the way it was presented to the court, using lots of archival footage filmed by the Nazis themselves. Be warned, however, it does contain some disturbing shots of naked dead bodies of Auschwitz Concentration Camp victims being thrown into mass graves.
One lesson for today in the title comes when time after time Hitler would talk about how much he loved peace and had no intention to invade certain countries and then invaded them the next week. The inconsistency between what Hitler said and what he did is remarkably similar to what is going on today in America. At the Nuart for one week, opening June 3.
When Johnny Depp was first signed by Disney to star as Capt. Jack Sparrow, he intentionally made his performance as outrageous as possible to upset the suits back in Hollywood who were watching the dailies. Upset them he did, but they didn’t give him the hook and the film was an enormous monetary success, although I thought it was 2 ½ hours of preposterous tedium.
Depp is back for his fourth try at Capt. Jack, and this one, directed by Rob Marshall, is the best I’ve seen, although for me to say that is damning with faint praise since I despised the first three. Also back are Geoffrey Rush as Capt. Jack’s nemesis, Hector Barbossa, and Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs. Fortunately, McNally has forsaken his bad impersonation of Robert Newton as Long John Silver, so his performance adds to the film, rather than detracting.
New to the series are Penèlope Cruz, who replaces Keira Knightley as the female interest (I hesitate to use “love interest” because Capt. Jack seems asexual, to give him the best of it), Ian McShane as Blackbeard, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as a nubile (but not naked; this series eschews nudity, but what’s to hurt to show a mermaid’s breasts — aren’t they what make them alluring?), and Sam Claflin as Philip Swift, an obstinate missionary.
The story is still nonsensical; they are all searching for the Fountain of Youth, and the dialogue is difficult to hear and even harder to comprehend. Depp’s drunken Capt. Jack is getting tired and filmmakers should know by now that alcoholism is not something at which they should poke fun in a major motion picture.
Frankly, it’s an ordeal to sit through all the jabberwocky that’s paraded in this series. None of it has ever made any sense, yet all the films are far in excess of two hours. If one were to try to concentrate and bring lucidity to any of them, one would leave the screenings exhausted and defeated.
Sometimes films with little intellectual quality at least offer pleasing visual effects. Not this. The 3D is ineffectual. Except for the credits, there is very little third dimension in the film. It looks pretty flat with or without the glasses. But the glasses take away some of the brightness of the film. I watched part of it without the glasses. It didn’t make the film any better, but it did brighten up the color and was not blurry.
The best way to view this is on a non-3D TV where you see the brighter colors, but can quickly turn it off.