The Good German (2006)

This film has so much that I really need to watch it again.

Soderberg tries something new, or perhaps I should say old. He films the entire film using cameras from the 1940s and film grade from that era to achieve an authentic black and white, World War II film. Old Russian film stock was blended in seamlessly too. The effect is stunning. It's jarring though because you keep thinking you're watching an old film and there's George Clooney and Cate Blanchette on screen. Even the soundtrack was done in the melodramatic manner.

So, stylistically, it was superb, but the story was even better; it addressing questions far greater than a whodunnit. The setting is Berlin/Potsdam, Germany immediately after the Allies claim victory in Europe. In the midst of tracking down war criminals, carving up eastern Europe, and enjoying the luxuries of the Nazi leaders abandoned mansions, questions are raised regarding universal guilt, opportunities in the future of warfare, and doing what is expected of you.

One scene was particularly striking. A man is killed in the midst of a crowd watching a military parade. No one really notices the murder as it takes place, but then recognized the corpse and begin to stare at him as the camera rises over the clapping crowd as the murderer slinks away unpunished. A microcosm of one of the major themes of the film - what should we do to those who did such evil right before our eyes, when we didn't attempt to stop them as they were doing it. Applicable today in the war in Iraq, global warming, consumerism and multinational corporationism.

The title is even intricate: Does it refer to the German who wanted to do good or does it refer to the person who behaved as a German was expected to behave?

A couple last insights, as there were many: The uniform, or who you identify yourself with, features prominently in the film, visually and in speech. Do people use the uniform to get what they want or does the uniform use the person to achieve something. Also, use of goods and ideas without recognition of their sources (Champagne from Nazi stores, scientists from death camps, even from desperate times).

Official Site | IMDB

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