“Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961) Starring Spencer Tracy. Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximilian Schell, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift. Written by Abby Mann. Directed by Stanley Kramer. Lengthy, literate courtroom drama, still the most intelligent film to come from Hollywood on the subject of Nazi atrocities. The subject is post-World War II war crimes tribunals, ironically taking place in Nuremberg, location of the first international attention attained by Nazi fanaticism through the “documentation” of Hitler’s National Socialist rallies (filled with alarm bells curiously unheeded at the time) in Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will”. Kramer’s film is a still scathing indictment, not only of the Nazis but of Germany itself, as it dissects the disintegration of the moral fabric of an entire society who found the capability of inhuman action a small price to pay for a quick resolution of their economic and political crises. To the credit of the filmmakers, there is an attempt to interject a balanced viewpoint so what little may be understood of the attraction of evil by an entire society may be examined; but it is an intractable riddle, resistant to any one universal truth. Kramer and writer Abby Mann are well aware of this, and in a cogent creative choice, concentrate instead on the industry of denial and evasion of responsibility.
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I also rate this film a lot. I want to see it again now.
I was taken to see ‘Triumph of The Will’ in my teens, on a school trip. They showed it at the Imperial War museum, as part of our history course. Despite the subject matter, it is an incredible piece of film-making. An object lesson in how to create a powerful documentary.
Best wishes, Pete.