60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final Solution to a "storage problem"
CONSPIRACY serves as a reminder of the banality of human evil, even at its most horrific.
On January 20, 1942, with Nazi armies stalled in the snow at the gates of Moscow, a lakeside mansion in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee is the venue for a conference. Fifteen government bureaucrats and high ranking officers of the SS gather. History is advised to remember these...
Published on 8 Jan 2006 by Joseph Haschka
1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not to brill
ok but no great. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. .
Published 8 months ago by jan
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Final Solution to a "storage problem",
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)CONSPIRACY serves as a reminder of the banality of human evil, even at its most horrific.
On January 20, 1942, with Nazi armies stalled in the snow at the gates of Moscow, a lakeside mansion in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee is the venue for a conference. Fifteen government bureaucrats and high ranking officers of the SS gather. History is advised to remember these otherwise appallingly ordinary representatives of the human species: SS General Reinhard Heydrich (Reich Security Main Office), SS Lt. Colonel Adolf Eichmann (Office of Jewish Affairs), SS Lt. General Heinrich Müller (Gestapo), Gerhard Klopfer (Nazi Party Chancellery), Wilhelm Kritzinger (Reichs-Chancellery), SS Lt. General Otto Hofmann (Race and Settlement Main Office), Dr. Georg Liebbrandt and Dr. Alfred Meyer (Reichs-Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories), Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart (Reichs-Ministry of the Interior), Undersecretary Martin Luther (Foreign Ministery), SS Major Rudolf Lange (SS Taskforces in Latvia), Director Erich Neumann (Office of the Four Year Plan), Dr. Joseph Bühler and SS Colonel Karl Schöngarth (Government-General of Occupied Poland), and Dr. Roland Freisler (Reichs-Ministry of Justice).
Even after coerced emigration, 132,000 Jews remain in Germany. As the Wehrmacht gobbles up territory, millions more - potentially 11 million - will come under Nazi control. As it's put in this film, there's a burgeoning "storage problem", and the chairman of the meeting, Heydrich (Kenneth Branagh), is calling for unanimous agreement on a "final solution".
As the viewer sees, it's not the concept of the eradication of the Jews from Germany and the occupied territories that fuels the debate, it's the modus operandi, and which individuals, particularly those of impure blood resulting from a confusing variety of mixed marriages, are to be targeted. At one point, even the semantics of the process - "evacuation" vs. "execution" - are at issue. And, of course, it all must be done legally as proscribed by the Nuremburg Laws. Finally, after the group dances around the issue of method, Heydrich and his deputy Eichmann (Stanley Tucci) get to the crux of the matter. The Jews are to be gassed in special camps established for that purpose. At the current stage of technology, the gold standard is apparently 60,000 exterminations a day.
The impact of CONSPIRACY derives from the chilling ordinariness of the conference and its tone. These fifteen might just as well be the top management of a large corporation discussing the eradication of rats from one of its manufacturing sites, or the construction of an assembly line to produce more and better widgets. As a note of interest, nine of those present were lawyers by training.
Branagh renders a positively brilliant performance as the ultimate devil's advocate, who steers the meeting to its foregone conclusion with a mixture of charm and quiet menace. When Kritzinger (David Threfall) objects that Hitler has declared to him personally that execution of the Jews is not his intent, Heydrich cooly reminds him, "Yes, and he will continue to do so." Plausible deniability, you see. And later in a private conversation when Heydrich demands Kritzinger's full support, the SS General remarks that the latter would be a difficult man to bring down - but it could be managed.
At the film's conclusion, the fate of all involved is provided in text overlay. Heydrich was assassinated by Czech partisans. Eichmann, Bühler and Schöngarth were tried and executed. All the rest either went free for lack of war crimes evidence, served time and were released, died of natural causes, were killed in the closing months of the war, or just disappeared. Indeed, Klopfer sold insurance after the war and presumably died in his bed.
The Final Solution took planning. As Eichmann angrily berates an Army chauffeur for engaging on whim in an undignified snowball fight with his fellow drivers awaiting their masters, "Things just don't happen."
The record of the Wannsee Conference which served as the basis for CONSPIRACY came from Luther's copy of the minutes discovered after the war. Ironically, Luther himself was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944 for plotting against his boss in the Foreign Ministry.
75 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mandatory viewing.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)"Conspiracy" is a film about the Holocaust like no other..... there is no death, torture or explicit degradation. Instead, what has been exchanged for these already familiar fundamental truths of the "final solution" is what has until now been neglected... the teleology and methodology behind it, the HOW and WHY of humanities darkest hour (thus far).
This film crosses over to the very uncomfortable but entirely necessary realms that the people who devised this despicable crime were not in fact monsters from another world but did actually belong to our own species (a problem people still seem to have, looking at the stupid criticisms of the recent Hitler biopic "Max", from people saying he shouldn't be "humanised").
All of the central actors interpret their subjects brilliantly (particularly Colin Firth), but owing both to his performance and the nature of his character Kenneth Branagh makes this ultimately his film. Reynard Heidrich is pretty much universially credited with being the architect of the "final solution", as well as being particularly sadistic and perverse in his personal treatment of Jews. With all this in mind, it must have been challenging to put it mildly for Branagh to try to truthfully portray both the idealistic relish he took in the plan and the casual threatening and belittling of his peers which didn't completey conform, together with the physical dominance and dare I say charisma that he must have had (and is portrayed) to so effortlessly convince those around him of his doctrine.
The film is beautifully shot in a cold blue-white light, complimenting the elegant surroundings and of course the subject matter, and the directing is kept to a stylistic minimum.
At its most fundamental, "Conspiracy" is simply an important film, it concentrates on elements of the Holocaust which have been touched on very little, but need to be if we are ever to understand and prevent such disgusting things ever happening again. Like all important stories, it attempts to explore the human condition and what it is capable of, what we are ALL capable of, whether it be beautiful or hideously ugly. If we think ignorantly that because the Holocaust has happened it couldn't happen again, that *WE* could never be prone to submisiveness in such crimes, then the future is truly bleak.... the only way to learn from such things is to UNDERSTAND how they happen and how everyone can be susceptible. This story is as relevant now as it ever has been.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ominous brilliance,
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)With the exception of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy & Smiley's People, the acting in this horrifying masterpiece is the very finest I have ever seen. Horrifying is about the mildest thing one can say; I initially saw the first television broadcast, and well remember feeling physically and mentally unclean, and utterly numbed as it ended.
Conspiracy is a partial speculation upon the infamous Wansee conference; the only surviving documents are the minutes, which are not, of course, known for giving any deep insight into the psychology and personality of the particpants, but the staggering realism of the atmosphere is deeply disturbing. Doubtless this is helped by the fact that it was partially filmed in the very room, which has been preserved, in which the conference took place.
The quality of the performences are peerless -you could expect no more, and hope for much less. There is not one fault, not one slight error, nothing. Tucci's slight American accent is hardly a problem, given that the language is English, not German, so the relevence is about 0. What is more important is whether or not the performances feel like a portrayal of a real person, and there can be no doubt on this score. If anyone suggests otherwise, they don't know what they are talking about. Period. These are a group of some of the finest working actors alive; at the height of their abilities, with a suberbly crafted script and a director who knows every aspect of his business inside out. I won't pick out individual performances; all are stunning, and this is an ensemble piece. A group of men sit at a table, with few breaks, and hold your attention riveted as they debate, like a board meeting, the deliberate slaughter of an entire people, interspaced with fine wine and buffet food.
The fluidity of the direction is amazing. Subtle, smooth, beautifully lit, and with a fine air for detail. The meeting appears to ebb and flow, but also clearly shows the result was never in doubt. The Final Solution can be traced directly to this meeting.
The DVD has a fine transfer. There are no extras to speak of -it doesn't need them. Everyone should see this production at least once, and for actors, it's particularly valuable, if only to allow an analysis of each performance. Teachers should also find it of great benefit. Can you enjoy it? Certainly not -the subject is too horrifying for any such thing. But you will admire the production and performances, and wonder just how the actors managed to do it. I suspect they don't know themselves.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and absorbing,
By A Customer
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)I have read that Kenneth Branagh had severe problems playing the part of Heydrich. For an actor as acomplished as Branagh, this shows the depth of the character. For all the problems he apparently had, it does not show in this film. The cast are all superb. Heydrich is very charming, very determined and very cold. In real life, he was the ideal Nazi, blonde and blue eyed. In the film, upon our first and last encounter with Heydrich, we see him from an angle which highlights his cold blue eyes and for me, that's when the reality of what had been discussed sunk in. Branagh steals the show and sets the standard for his co-stars. A standard which they all rise to and maintain. The acting is simply superb.
The actual filming of the conference unique in itself. The camera does not flash from each speaker to the next, as it would in a film. It takes the long way round looking at each man in turn as they sit around the table. In this way, the viewer is made to feel as though they are sitting at the table and part of history. Any compassion the men might feel for the Jews and what is to become of them is wiped out by Heydrich's sharp, snide remarks.
Personally, at the time, I only watched this programme to help with my school studies. I was 17 at the time and thought that it would be dull. I was wrong. This programme will grab people of all ages who are interested or researching the holocaust. Even the dialogue of the programme is facinating and often unbelievable. Not often do we see true evil acted well and realistically, but Conspiracy is the exception. Superb.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling Masterpiece,
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)having actually been to the house in which the Wannsee Conference occurred (now a museum), I took a keen interest in this production when it was first aired. I hoped that the subject matter would be dealt with sensitively yet honestly - I was not disapoited. Having been based upon the actual transcripts of the conference itself, this production graphically displays the casual manner in which the high figures of Nazi Germany dealt with finding a 'solution' to the 'Jewish Question' - which resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent Jews.
The Acting was superb, with arguably the best performance being that of Kenneth Brannagh. The direcion is subtle, yet inspiring, with attention played to small details of the characters and the movements which display their beleifs and in a few cases unease at thieir task. The sets are an exact replica of the room itself - again allowing the viewer to feel as if they are themselves present at this most despicable of moments in history. All in all a thoruoughly rewarding production, which although focussing upon a deeply disturbing topic, still allows the viewer to see plainly, the higly organised, yet demonic system of Nazi leadership
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling,
By A Customer
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)Conspiracy is a work of genius. How brutal and cruel that little meeting in Wannsee was, where a roomful of men congregated to discuss the Final Solution. Hiedrich (Kenneth Branagh) and Eichmann (Stanley Tucci) in particular, put forward their plans of genocide with all the detachment one would expect from such architects of death; the general depersonalisation of Jews also ran rampant. For instance, Heidrich continually spoke of the storage of Jewish people rather than the accommodation of them. There were also occasional brief flashes of crass, inappropriate humour - not to the viewer, but to the other Nazis present - which to me served only to accentuate the blackness of their conscience. The end of the drama provided the viewer with the respective fates that awaited each of these monsters after the war. Shockingly, when considering that the minutes of the meeting did survive, only a handful of the men present recieved the punishment they deserved.
Nonetheless, a fantastic drama and something that should well be shown on the National Curriculum, along with Schindler's List. We should never forget
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling and Disturbing,
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)An absolutely gripping drama that disturbs the notions of how close to the abyss the human race always is. Superbly acted by the complete cast, the depiction of the Wannassee Conference at which the Final Solution was drawn up like a company business plan is terrifying on how commonplace it all seems. Generals, beaurocrats, doctors and politicians mull over the possibility of sending over two thousand Jews to their deaths every hour, with the only question being could it be done more efficiently? Watch it, weep and worry.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conspiracy - Compelling and disturbing viewing,
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)In 1942 a dozen high ranking Nazis held a secret meeting in a house in Wannsee. The agenda was the problem of what to do with the Jews that the Nazis were determined to remove from society. The result of this meeting was THE most infamous crime against humanity ever committed, the gas chambers and the Holocaust.
Only one record of this meeting, a critical moment in history survives. From this record Loring Mandell has constructed the script for this compelling film. With as much historical fact as we actually have, and filled in with believable reconstructions of events, we are shown the discussions that led to the final solution. The film is chilling. 12 seemingly reasonable people sit around a table for a conference, the end result, discussed coldly and calmly at times, is the most unreasonable conference conclusion in history.
This film deserves many awards, for many aspects. The script is top notch, the direction superb. And the actors - Kenneth Brannagh and Stanley Tucci excel as the Machiavellian Heydrich and Eichmann, skilfully railroading opposition and twisting arms to get their way. But every role is filled by a skilled actor, Ian McNeice, David Threlfall really stand out, as does Colin Firth who portrays the calculating and single minded Stuckert, the lawyer who framed the laws by which the Jews were excluded from society and ultimately led to their destruction.
This film is compelling viewing, sweeping the viewer along with the narrative. And chilling at the same time - how such seemingly reasonable people can be so blinded by their own prejudices that they go along with the most monstrous of schemes. A film that should be required viewing in history lessons.
The film is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio, with a 2.0 soundtrack. There are no extras, but this film is so powerful it needs no embellishment. A decent presentation well worth getting.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars chilling and engaging,
This review is from: Conspiracy [DVD] (DVD)The reviews on this item so far are fairly comprehensive. It is certainly true that this is not the most accurate of historical documents, but then any historian would tell you that all history is in the interpretation and so the movie is as useful as your interpretation. The performances are excellent, Branagh, in particular, is outstanding, he is every bit the portrayal of the chillingly pleasant monster. The message is powerful, the acting and direction cold, calm and calculated - within 1 hour the holocaust was decided upon; the moment where the topic of discussion is how many and how fast can they be culled? is particularly sickening.
From an historical perspective i found the following very interesting: Hitler based his party structure on a chaos theory in that he had simple overlapping functions, so that his subordinates would always be engaged in in-fighting, instead of challenging him. It worked remarkably well. Here, in motion, the director shows the in-fighting, but on this part of domestic policy (internal to the Reich, at any rate) the decision was swift and unanimous, Heydrich alone held the power. Utterly intriguing.
What will make this more interesting for anyone, would be to read Hannah Arendt's account of Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem, which is published by Penguin.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The banality of evil,
This review is from: Conspiracy [VHS] (VHS Tape)The people gathered at the Wansee Conference were middle ranking civil servants and SS personell. This said, they decided to - or thought they were doing - to destroy world Jewry. Heydrich had already come to the conference with a fait accompli - the Jews would go. Kenneth Brannagh's performance as Heydrich plays to this view - whatever was said at the conference would be so much wasted air. Bringing the conference to a modern perspective, Heydrich was a master at manipulating a conference, and I would reccommend this to anyone who has to chair a conference - watch Heydrich, and how he does it. The actor who plays Roland Friesler really does look like the real Friesler.
All in all a wonderfull video, if you get the chance, buy Mark Roseman's book of the Wansee Conference (Available from Amazon)
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