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Taking Sides [2003] [DVD]

Harvey Keitel , Stellan Skarsgård , István Szabó    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
Price: £7.78 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Taking Sides [2003] [DVD] + Mephisto [1981] [DVD] + Colonel Redl [1984] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgård, Moritz Bleibtreu, Birgit Minichmayr, Ulrich Tukur
  • Directors: István Szabó
  • Writers: Ronald Harwood
  • Producers: Adam Betteridge, Alex Marshall, David Rogers, Fritz Buttenstedt, Gisela Waetzoldt-Hildebrandt
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Guerilla Films
  • DVD Release Date: 5 Mar 2007
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002K117O
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,455 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Set in Germany in 1946, this thoughtful political drama is based on the true story of Dr Wilhelm Furtwängler (played here by Stellan Skarsgård), Germany's leading conductor and head of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra during World War 2. Following the end of the war and the collapse of the Third Reich, the allied forces are intent on imposing law and order on a bombed-out occupied Berlin, and are keen to set an example by being seen to prosecute an eminent public figure for Nazi collaboration. US Major Steve Arnold (Harvey Keitel) is sent, disguised as an insurance salesman, to investigate the strong and complex connections between Furtwängler and the Nazi regime. But to his dismay, nothing is as simple as he had hoped it would be, and his desire for a swift and ruthless prosecution is thwarted by the complex web of loyalties and politics in which he finds himself increasingly entangled.

Product Description

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: 2-DVD Set, Documentary, Featurette, Interactive Menu, Making Of, Photo Gallery, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Istvan Szabo's film Taking Sides - based on true events - recreates the suspenseful post-World War II interrogation of Dr Wilhelm Furtwangler (Stellan Skarsgard), the brilliant conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, who is considered by some to have been the most brilliant conductor of the 20th century. In the course of his de-Nazification by the Allies, Furtwangler is forced by a tough-talking American Major (Harvey Keitel) to re-examine his role during the Third Reich in the most uncompromising of terms. The confrontation between the soft-spoken cultural icon of the old world and the rough, emotional hard-hitter from the new world, makes for some electrifying verbal pyrotechnics, and brings the role of the artist in an evil regime into the limelight, to be examined along with all the other moral issues and ambiguities emerging from World War II. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: European Film Awards, ...Taking Sides ( Le cas Furtwängler ) ( Der Fall Furtwängler )

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pay your money and take your side 25 Feb 2007
By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I usually hesitate to purchase DVDs of films that I had not seen before, but in this case I was drawn by the scenario of the great German conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler being tested by the postwar American authorities as to the extent of his Nazi sympathies. I am glad that I made the purchase.

Based on Ronald Harwood's stage play (indeed he wrote the screenplay for the film), the film focusses on the reasons Furtwangler had for remaining in Germany to lead the Berlin Philharmonic when some of his fellow conductors and musicians left. In an interview that also comes with the DVD as well as in the accompanying commentary to the film, Harwood emphasises that he deliberately produced a finely balanced portrait and leaves the audience to 'take sides' based on the evidence produced.

The film can, of course, also be read in a modern context. What would you have done if you were in his shoes? Would you have stayed and fought from the inside, no matter how much they required some subservience to uncomfortable moral standpoints, or would you have bailed out but left those you loved and cared for (family and friends, Jews as well as former communists, homosexuals etc) to their fate? The film has some diversions, but the focus is largely on this argument.

The film is finely acted - not one 'duff' performance (apart, maybe from the Russian general and the ham-acted American general intorducing harvey Keitel to the job he had to do). The Hungarian director, Istvan Szabo, used some of the best in the business in his production team. Full credit to the editor and especially the cameraman - the colouring is spot on and some of the exterior shots very impressive. Impressive too are the interior scenes, finely crafted by Bond production designer, Ken Adam.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Easy Answers 24 July 2008
I found this film about the pre-trial interrogation of Wilhelm Furtwaengler, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic during the Third Reich, both disturbing and compelling. My discomfort arose from the one-sided nature of the interrogation, since Major Arnold (Harvey Keitel) has been given the mandate of securing a conviction against Furtwaengler by any means including humiliation. The Major is both a zealot and a bully who makes no effort to see the dilemma of the great maestro--whom he dismisses as a "bandleader,"--who has chosen to remain in Germany and has been forced to walk a "tightrope" in order to co-exist with and survive an intolerable regime. The Major, a philistine who has no understanding of the conflict between art and politics, furthermore, does not even speak the same language, figuratively speaking, as the shattered Furtwaengler. His interrogation methods, in fact, are recognized by Emmi, his jobbed-in German Secretary, as being reminiscent of those of the Gestapo.

The acting is superb, especially on the part of Stellan Skarsgard, whose nuanced portrayal of Furtwaengler is tremendously moving. Although Keitel's performance begins on such a high note that it has no place to go, it is nevertheless appropriate given the circumstances of his task of getting a conviction at any cost. Under director Istvan Szabo's guidance, however, the temptation to "take sides" with Furtwaengler, because of the Major's bullying, is subtly subverted by questions of conscience and motivation on the part of the maestro.

The recreation of post-war Berlin is superb.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Art and Authority Collide in this Excellent Film 31 Aug 2006
By Philoctetes TOP 500 REVIEWER
A most gripping story in which Furtwangler, the greatest conductor of the century and a man who lives only for music, is challenged by an American officer about his co-operation with the Nazis during Hitler's reign of intimidation and world war. Harvey Keitel is typically bullish as the self-righteous, uncompromising interrogator; Stellan Skarsgard superb as the lofty, philosophical and haunted German maestro. To the movie's credit, there is no clear bias although it is hard to sympathise with the American's bullying, simple-minded and eventually incoherent finger-pointing. The closing footage of the real Furtwangler is very revealing. Keitel fans and those interested in the scenario shouldn't hesitate.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Try this trial 18 Nov 2010
After reading a family history of the Furtwanglers in German I was very curious how Istvan Szabo would handle the subject of the great conductor himself who had to
"take sides" and chose a way many would consider not PC. In this case. Not leaving Germany while others did. But giving it a second thought. Which US citizen would consider leaving the US after the lies of the weapons of mass distruction, the flagrant lawbreaking of Guantanamo and the torturing in Iraq? Harvey Keitel in his task of trying to get Furtwangler condemned for compliance with the naxi regime uses the same inquiry techniques the Gestapo used in the astonishingly arrogant way those with power always tend to have. In a way American militaries for instance used it again in Iraq. Putting in a young American Jewish military man who came from Germany in the 30's and a young German woman whose father was killed due to plotting against Hitler gives a wonderfull many facetted picture of how difficult ethics can be. It all goes to show that people love their own people, countries, faith and culture. And making choices is at times darn hard to understand not being a part of the same. I wish we would all try to understand the other side a bit better. After all. Muslims, Russians, Iraqis and North Koreans love their children too.So buy. Enjoy this DVD. And best of all perhaps. Think about it a bit more. It might just give us all a bit more understanding of the others...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful film adaptation of Taking Sides
I wanted to see this movie after reading a script of the Ronald Harwood play, Taking Sides. It has been a fascinating comparison. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Bacchus
4.0 out of 5 stars Art and politics dont mix-please discuss 5 points
As noted by a number of reviewers, this started life as a play and the director has made a film that unfolds like a play. Read more
Published 22 months ago by "Belgo Geordie"
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good picture about the famous German conductor Wilhelm...
I believe people interested in the Second World War and the Third Reich era will be interested in this movie (scores 7,0 at IMDB). Masterly played by both Keitel and Skarsgård. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Bent A
1.0 out of 5 stars Great play - second rate film
When you've got acting talent like Keitel and Skarsgard, design guru Ken Adam and a Ronnie harwood screenplay, you've really got to screw up the directing and editing to end up... Read more
Published on 30 May 2012 by O Baker
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries Too Hard to Be Deep
The true problem with this film is that it locks onto an interesting topic and then squanders it by repeating the same case over and over. Read more
Published on 7 July 2011 by Arch Stanton
4.0 out of 5 stars Ken Adam
Although not as good as the theatre performance of the original play i saw i would still recommend Taking Sides not just for the excellent film but the DVD also includes a very... Read more
Published on 24 Jan 2011 by idleshark
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking film.
The Major, as portrayed by Keitel is such an obnoxious/one dimensional character that my sympathy tended to edge towards Furtwangler. Read more
Published on 22 Dec 2010 by James Walters
4.0 out of 5 stars Right or wrong?
Taken from a Ronald Harwood play we get a film with good dialogue. The acting too is just as you'd imagine it with the vigorous Keitel as Major Arnold, dogmatic and self-righteous... Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2009 by technoguy
5.0 out of 5 stars war criminal or simply a musical genius
This is the true story of Wilhelm Furtwangler, a brilliant musical conducter. Possible war criminal? Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2009 by Red Rose
5.0 out of 5 stars Skarsgard's Furtwangler
At first I was somewhat dismayed that Stellan Skarsgard didn't look enough like existing photographs of the conductor, Wilhelm Furtwangler. I needn't have been concerned. Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2007 by Hywel James
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