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Taking Sides [Import]

Harvey Keitel , Stellan Skarsgĺrd , István Szabó    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I did this show Feb. 27 2004
Format:DVD
As an actor/producer who chose to do the play TAKING SIDES (on which this film is based) last May at the height of a new era of "post war" occupation by America, I feel I have particular insight into this product.
I played Major Arnold, the bullish American who is so traumatized by the Holocaust brought on by the Germans that he is assigned to interrogate artists who stayed in Germany during the war.
Furtwangler is the focus of this investigation, as the most renouned conductor of the time. Furtwangler was wealthy, loved by Hitler as well as most Germans. You see, art and culture was big to Nazi life, and though Furwangler never joined the party and actually helped some Jewish musicians escape, he chose to stay in Germany and work. It is known that Hitler so loved him that there was a standing order to not touch him (he was on a list of "immortals" that were viewed as so important they got special treatment even in times of war and hardship.) Furtwangler was openly defiant to other Nazi officials, and they hated him.
LIke many Germans, they knew what the Nazis were up to only after the fact. Then they were somewhat trapped. Furtwangler admits to knowing the brutality.
And that's the hard part of this piece. There is no clear cut answer as to whom is more right in matters. And if done well, the audience understands both "Sides" of this story. Even if they feel stronger leanings towards one side over the other.
There are many parallels to some of the issues in today's current events that make this sampling of history 60 years ago, startling. History does indeed repeat itself in strange new ways.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Difficult Subject, A Brilliant Result June 22 2004
By Grady Harp TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
TAKING SIDES achieves what so many other attempts at exploring the extremes of the human psyche under duress do not. That nether land of doubt that exists when aftermath 'truths' can only be postulated and not proved is the fodder from which writer Ronald Harwood (who also wrote 'The Pianist') has created a terse and tense examination of the investigation by the Allied Forces of Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler. Was he a Nazi sympathizer or a protector of Jews during the Holocaust? Director Istvan Szabo maintains the format of the original play to keep the story confined to the interrogation room, straying only momentarily to develop the characters of this quasi-trial. Stellan Skarsgard is extraordiarily fine as the controversial Furtwangler, even taking on his body language and conducting moments to the realist edge. As the Allied Forces interrogator Steven Arnold, Harvey Keitel is brilliant - seethingly angry, a hell-bent Major who refuses Furtwangler any semblance of respect. Assisting Keitel are his secretary Emmi (in an astonishingly fine performance by Birgitt Minichmayr) and an Allied observer David (the equally fine Moritz Bleibtreu), a Jew who still holds the subject Furtwangler in deep respect. But the magic is in the duets by Keitel and Skarsgard, sparring with personal venom and personal despair. We are not given a decision as to the truth of Furtwangler's investigation, but we are told the results of the interviews. All of the music is Beethoven and Schubert and Bruckner (the use of the Adagio from the Bruckner Symphony No. 7 is especially eloquent and meaningful) and is played from recordings by Furtwangler and the Berlin Philharmonic as well as by Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle of Berlin. This film is every bit as fine as the author's film of his THE PIANIST, but for some unknown reason it simply opened and closed in the theaters without making the impact it so justly deserves. Highly recommended on every level.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Art against politics : the eternal fight June 5 2004
Format:DVD
The disturbing question around the inquirer Arnold is are you i nvolved or not with the Nazis? . He doesn't understand how you can face the enemie without being outside the country as others did it. Toscanini, Klemperer, Schoenberg or Bruno Walter.
Wilhelm Furtwangler holds his reasoning of keeping inside, holding the struggle face to face.
There have always been these two points of view about how deal with that. Is really the politics more important than the art? It depends on you; and how you face the life; the ancient greeks used call idiot to this kind of people who just care about his personal business; forgetting perhaps the meaning of what citizenship means.
That's why Furtwangler develops his art of cobducting. The art will always survive far beyond the politics ; due his goals are timeless ; the politics turns around another level , a minor level obviously , because the material needs of the human being concern to a major number of people than the art ; whose purpose is by its own nature more reduced, less popular , more aristocratic.
And we are then before a democratic choice ; the art has been always in a less proportion than politics. The Reinassance fact concerned juist about a few minds and men ; and it's hard to think about if the achievements made by all this reborn spiritual could have been understood by the whole population.
This film show both positions ; the trascendence against the present moment ; the aristos facing the vulgarity .
Keitel and Sanksgard sre flamboyant in every role . Szabo with his camera and enlighting are fisrt rate.
The issues delaed in this movie are timeless discussion , tht's why this picture is an important document about the awful facts after the WW2 about Wilhelm Furtwangler the greatest conductor in any age.
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