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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 26 July 2017
creative piece of historical recreation . Unfortunately the script cannot decide whether it is a drama on a disfunctional family , or a tale of the brutality of nazism . The two did not seem to mesh , the pace was so slow , the ending reality shots not having any pertinance . Shame , Schindlers list , is far more gripping and moving , every time , so why watch a dull , inferior product .
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on 23 October 2015
I didn't enjoy this, I found it to be slow moving, predictable and it didn't seem to adequately reflect the pressure and struggle of the period and the places.
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on 26 March 2017
Best film about the Holocaust, and how good people gave in to the Nazis
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VINE VOICEon 21 September 2009
Viggo Mortenson plays an academic, a likeable guy who doesn't want to make trouble, but doesn't feel strong enough to risk his livelihood and position by standing up to the rise of the Nazis in Germany.

When they burn books, he stands by. When his Jewish friend begins to be stripped of his fundamental human rights, he stands by, and says "why don't you leave. You don't have any ties here", forgetting that his friend is a native German, and has just as much right to stay as he has.

Then, he is co-opted by the SS to vindicate their hateful policies, and again, he doesn't feel it will hurt.

It is a slippery slope, and at the end of the film, he discovers just how deep the hole at the bottom of that slope can get. I won't put in spoilers, but this film is a serious warning of how things can start small, and grow big, and then spiral of the control of anybody who recognises what is happening.

As some people might put it, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is just the message that this film is trying to teach.

Just as "Nazis: A Warning From History" The Nazis - A Warning From History [DVD] [1997] shows, once irrational hatred takes hold, it takes on a life of its own. And if you look at the news today, you can see that it IS starting to happen again, so it's a warning we all need to heed. This time around, don't just be "good", be better!
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on 19 November 2010
I bought this movie primarily because I am a big Viggo Mortensen fan, and the film delighted me and also surprised me in many ways.

It is like watching a play rather than a movie, as so much of the content is in the dialogue and in the relationship between the character Viggo plays and his friend played by Jason Isaacs - who is absolutely excellent. It is chilling to see how someone who is intrinsically 'good' can be coerced and threatened, by a regime such as the rising National Socialist part in Germany, into taking actions which he cannot really justify or understand. It is a fascinating study of the struggle between a man's conscience and his fear for the safety of himself and his family.

It made me think about what fear does to a person, and to a nation when they are in the grip of dictatorship, and how incredibly brave people can be when they do take a stand and often sacrifice their lives. It's beautifully acted, and paced but not for anyone who is looking for a war film or an action film.
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on 24 March 2010
This is the most powerful, thought provoking and moving pieces that I have viewed in a long while. It asks the question that so many of us have posed namely how could Nazi Germany ever have flourished - surely the vast majority of the German population was made up of thoughful,kind, people - all of whom could have been described as being, essentially, good?

The main character, John Halder, is played by Viggo Mortenson. Halder is a decent sort, an academic whose mother is desperately ill. He takes her in to his home to care for her, putting himself, his wife and marriage under terrible pressure. To vent some of this pressure he writes a novel. In this novel a husband, faced with a sick wife who is beyond all medical help, assists her, out of compassion, to commit suicide. The novel, of limited interest at the time of publication, is seized upon by the Nazi Party as a fine instrument of propaganda to promote its own long term goal of genetic cleansing. Halder is coopted into assisting and in time even into joining the Nazi Party. He does so in the naif belief that he can keep Nazi ideology at arm's length and remain unpolluted by it, perhaps even helping to calm and modify Nazi policies.

After all, he tells himself, he is doing nothing. Instead of this he ,in despite of himself ,is forced to extend and deepen the nature of his cooperation becoming an integral and essential part of the widening Nazi horror. One small extra step of cooperation is taken, time after time, with Halder, on every occaision telling himself that he is doing nothing.The film is well scripted and brilliantly staged and shot.

The background music has been skillfully chosen and is well played,not drowning out the dialogue as in certain films. The supporting cast is replete with first rate actors -Jason Isaacs, Jodie Whittaker, Gemma Jones - all of whom play their parts to perfection. The mystery at the rotten heart of Nazi Germany may remain unanswered but the film does at least suggest a partial explanation to the question of how could all - indeed any of this- have happened- namely: in order for evil to succeed it is only necessary for one thing to occur and that is for good men to do nothing.
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on 5 August 2012
This story has an interesting premise and it takes place in a dramatic setting. I was looking forward to this film, but it had a superficial, perfunctory feeling and it was disappointing.

It was as if the cast weren't fully inhabiting their roles, as if their true feelings weren't engaged. Despite good photography, most of the scenes lacked dramatic credibility. I was ungripped and unconvinced by most of what I was watching.

The central role is played by Viggo Mortensen who is an interesting personality, but he looks miscast and out of sympathy with the part he is playing. You can't blame him- this is a noticeably ambiguous part, with unheroic characteristics. Mortensen clearly does not do 'stodgy' or unheroic, and is uncomfortable with it.

The role is a well-intentioned man with a vacuum at his centre, he just drifts along, he's switched-off. And yet at the same time he is meant to be a creative writer! Mortensen regrettably looks like a man of vigour who is pretending to be a man without it.

The actor's task is to suggest what lies inside this enigmatic man, explain him, or at least suggest some inner motives or conflicts. For this viewer, Mortensen (or his Director) wasn't really the man for this job, and consequently the film didn't really work.
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VINE VOICEon 8 February 2016
I won't say it's the best movie about Nazi Germany that I've ever seen but I think it's a strikingly good film. Leonard Maltin found it ultimately unsatisfying - I think for once he missed the point. There can be no Hollywood style catharsis and resolution in a truthful movie about this topic - no reconciliation with the jewish friend whom he let down, no rebellion against the regime. As the son of a jewish refugee, I found it sincere in its efforts to portray an ordinary, good man who is gradually forced to work for the Nazis, embrace the poisoned creed, simultaneously seduced away from his talented pianist wife by a girl whose willingness to follow the party line is simple and unsophisticated. He has ethical doubts,but they really mean nothing - and at that time his dilemma must have been shared by many thousands. There is no way of turning back the tide or of influencing events, leaving one with the choice of doing well in one's career or being passed over for promotion in favour of others. The closing scene, of the little camp orchestra playing Mahler, is both realistic and moving. I suppose if I have a criticism it is that the assigning to him of one challenge after another - an honorary role in the Nazi party leading eventually to helping to forcibly evict jews from their apartments and into lorries, and eventually to a supervisory function in the running of concentration camps, is a little artificial. But I think that dramatic licence is necessary.

I was glad that there was no superfluous sentiment or eroticism. Movies about the holocaust which include naked ladies are a particular dislike of mine. Mortensen plays his part in a rather robotic, unemotional way to signify that it's reality we're seeing, not Hollywood - and by the end, he's lost every human being that ever loved him, subtly and barely noticed by the viewer. I think the director pitched it very well. It may be a film that repays viewing a second time.
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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2009
John Halder (Viggo Mortenson) is a respected professor of literature, who once wrote a novel about compassionate euthanasia. He now juggles his mother suffering from TB and dementia, his neurotic piano-playing wife, 2 boisterous children, a female student he's very attracted to, book burning, and Proust being eliminated from his curriculum. He regularly escapes life for beer-fuelled heart-to-hearts with his friend, Jewish psychoanalyst Maurice (Jason Isaacs), whose early concern over Hitler is brushed aside: "Hitler's a joke... he'll never last."

When Hitler's chancellor summons Halder to write a report on the "case for an enlightened approach to mercy death on the grounds of humanity" there's only one problem... Halder isn't a member of the party. In a sudden sweep, Halder becomes an "honorary" member of the SS, with all its subsequent privileges, separates from his wife, and begins a new and successful life - albeit at the expense of his friend, and his conscience. As Hitler's Germany takes shape, Maurice's situation becomes increasingly unstable, and when he finally comes begging for help to leave the country, Halder is placed in an impossible position.

The movie, based on a stage play by C P Taylor, moves slowly, as Halder is assimilated into the role of unwilling Nazi; and though he never stops doing "good", he finds himself on dangerous, ethically ambiguous ground, as he is forced to weigh up his friendship with Maurice against his own survival. The climax of the movie has a harrowing, nightmarish quality, as Halder's conscience, which inserts itself very occasionally in the form of music, as members of the cast break out in fragments of song (reminiscent of Dancer in the Dark), leads him to face the consequences of his decisions.

Mortenson, ever serious and versatile, plays his role with excellent subtlety, letting his character do the talking. The mainly British supporting cast, headed by Isaacs indignant with rage, are also convincing in a way that foregrounds the bleak reality of their respective situations. 1930s Germany is authentically reproduced visually, though not in the language, which will always be a point of contention for moviemakers and movie viewers alike.

Good is a movie that asks its audience to consider notions of goodness and complicity, and how far, by doing nothing against the system, Halder has in fact allowed the evil regime to establish itself and flourish. This isn't an original idea, by any means, but watching it happen still makes for a very sobering viewing experience.
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on 10 July 2013
The film is good, but just not quite as excellent as I was expecting. If you like the actors, definitely get it... I wish the story went a little deeper. It IS excellent in certain aspects, in that it feels timeless. It doesn't feel like an untouchable costume drama, but rather frighteningly like today. Also it is not a stereotyped Nazi movie. Pleople may be surprised or disappointed, but it shows many of the characters as human real characters. Isaacs is amazing as usual, as is Mortensen and The actress who plays the mother is captivating (for some reason she's not on the IMDB or Wikipedia list of characters). Very nice cinematography. I can imagine many people will not like the ending (not a typical Hollywood ending without making any spoilers), which I found the best part and very responsible and brave.... VENDOR: A brand new DVD as described. Came quick. Cheap price... Happy.
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