Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Weighing in at 3 hours, you have to give yourself time to digest this movie. I'm at a disadvantage watching this film as so many of the questions it asks were already posed during my university history classes. The film does an excellent job at dramatizing these important issues though and they should continue to be brought up.

Eighty per cent of the film takes place inside a Nuremberg court room. Three American judges preside over the trial of four German judges charged with crimes against humanity for their roll in enforcing laws of the Third Reich. It is already more than three years since VE Day and the world isn't interested, in fact the world's eyes are not squarely focused on the brewing Cold War a few miles away.

We are offered several tragic personal stories of racism, sterilization, and political persecution along with documentary footage of the concentration camp at Dachau. Striking a magnificent contrast to this is the happy German people singing in a tavern and the upbeat defense lawyer who says that if these judges are to be convicted, then the entire world ought to be as well for their complicity with Hitler on various levels.

There is very little that I can critique the film of. One minor thing would be the inclusion of some mundane and repetitive scenes, without which may have shortened the film by 20 minutes, making it more palatable to a larger audience. It was also shot in black and white, though technicolor had existed for several years already (probably a budgetary constraint).

The acting in the film was superb and I would watch it again just simply to watch these classic actors take on such emotional roles. The camera almost never stands still. It rolls around the courtroom during long dramatic questioning and monologues.


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