AMEN

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Release Date: January 24, 2003

Starring: Ulrich Tukur, Mathieu
Kassovitz, Ulrich Mühe,
Michel Duchaussoy, Fontana Ion
Caramitru, and Antje Schmidt

Genre: Historical Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder The actions, or lack of
action, by Pope Pius XII
during World War II and the
Holocaust, when Hitler's
National Socialists murdered
millions of Jews and other
people, is one of history's
mysteries that has led to much
speculation and debate.
Marxist political filmmaker
Costa-Gavras (Z and MISSING)
adopts the anti-pope position
in his new English language
movie, AMEN. The movie focuses
on the true story of SS
Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein, a
respected chemist who
discovers that his superiors
are using the Zyklon B pellets
that he developed to disinfect
soldiers' drinking water to
gas imprisoned Jews by the
thousands. A team of top SS
officers, led by a man known
only as "The Doctor," recruits
Gerstein to help streamline
the process. While trying to
do everything he can think of
to slow down and delay the
process, Gerstein secretly
approaches the Swedish
Consulate, the German
Protestant community, and
finally the Vatican, to expose
these murderous activities to
the whole world. Father
Riccardo, a young Jesuit
priest with deep family
connections at the Vatican,
tries to help Gerstein. After
many entreaties, however, Pope
Pius XII declines to make any
overt mention of the
Holocaust. Eventually, Father
Riccardo dies in the
concentration camps, the
cynical Doctor escapes to
Argentina, and Gerstein hangs
himself after the French
charge him as a war
criminal. AMEN makes clear
that Gerstein's efforts to
help the Jews stem from his
firm Protestant Christian
faith. Playing Gerstein is
Ulrich Tukur, who also played
Dietrich Bonnhoeffer, the
Protestant objector to
Hitler's reign of terror, in
the MOVIEGUIDE® award-winning
video BONHOEFFER: AGENT OF
GRACE. Ulrich does another
marvelous job as the
conscience-stricken SS
officer. He does such a good
job that it's hard to believe
that this movie's Gerstein, a
dedicated family man, would
have abandoned his wife and
kids by committing suicide.
Although the movie itself
strongly suggests that
Gerstein hanged himself, the
movie's press notes say that
Gerstein could have been
murdered by other SS officers
in the prison. Ultimately,
though, it is Tukur's
performance and the restrained
direction by Costa-Gavras that
makes AMEN so compelling to
watch. Be that as it may, the
movie's position that Pope
Pius XII did next to nothing
to stop Hitler's slaughter of
the Jews does not hold water
historically. While it
probably is true that the
pope, not to mention the whole
world, did not do nearly
enough, there is good evidence
that Pope Pius did much to
encourage his priests to save
as many Jews as they could.
Thus, by some accounts, the
Roman Catholic church alone
helped to save 800,000 Jews or
more. By focusing on only one
Roman Catholic priest fighting
Hitler's reign of terror, and
a fictional, composite
character at that,
Costa-Gavras rewrites history
so that the pope, and his top
Vatican officials, look as bad
as possible. This, and other
things, suggest that
Costa-Gavras has an agenda
other than merely telling the
truth. All of this, in fact,
seems to give AMEN a liberal
worldview that undermines the
institution of the church, the
Bride of Christ. This is the
subtle subtext of the movie.
Similar liberal viewpoints
have led to declines in the
power of churches and
denominations over their
flocks, and over society. AMEN
would have been much more
powerful if it had taken a
stronger Christian worldview
that is more biblical.
Apparently, Gerstein's
official testimony about the
Holocaust, delivered to
authorities before he died,
provided the Allies with some
of their most detailed
accounts of Hitler's National
Socialist murder mills. In
fact, the Allies actually used
Gerstein's testimony at the
Nuremberg trials. Thus,
instead of focusing on the
Vatican's alleged apathy and
the tragic deaths of Father
Riccardo and Gerstein, AMEN
should have done more to bring
out the positive aspects of
the true histrical record. By
doing so, the movie could have
avoided the spirit of liberal
defeatism that occupies its
ending. Then, instead of the
triumph of evil that
overwhelms the movie's end,
viewers could have received a
picture of the ultimate
triumph of God and Truth over
great evil. This shows why the
Christian worldview of art is
superior to others. It also
shows the damage that
revisionist history can do to
creating art, including
filmmaking. For, the history
of the world is really the
history of the ultimate
triumph of God, and the
ultimate triumph of Good over
Evil and Truth over Falsehood.
Filmmakers help themselves
when they have a proper
Christian worldview and a
proper view of history. They
are also more likely to better
inform viewers and enrich
their lives. Please address
your comments to: Donald Krum,
President Kino
International 333 West 39th
Street Suite 503 New York, NY
10018 Phone: (212)
629-6880 Fax: (212)
714-0871 Website:
www.kino.com Email:
kinoint@infohouse.com

Rating: Not Rated

Runtime: 130 minutes

Distributor: Kino International

Director: Costa-Gavras

Executive Producer:

Producer: Claude Berri EXECUTIVE
PRODUCER: Michèle Ray

Writer: Costa-Gavras and J. C.
Grumberg BASED ON: THE DEPUTY
by Rolf Hochhuth

Address Comments To:

Content:

(CC, RHRH, Ab, L, V, N, A, D, M) Liberal Christian worldview with a revisionist rewrite of history designed to attack the Roman Catholic pope's role in the Holocaust during World War II; one light obscenity and two light exclamatory profanities; restrained Holocaust, war violence such as German officer shoots two Jewish prisoners, implied euthanasia of mentally handicapped, implied gassing of Jewish families to death, soldiers burn bodies in mass grave from afar, and air raids; no sex; brief upper male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, apathy toward murder and people passively accept totalitarianism.

GENRE: Historical Drama

CC

RHRH

Ab

L

V

N

A

D

M

Summary:

AMEN tells the tragic, true story of an SS officer in Hitler's Germany during World War II who secretly tries to get the pope's help in exposing the facts of Hitler's murder of the Jews. A liberal anti-pope attitude, and some revisionist history, diminishes this movie's Christian worldview.

Review:

The actions, or lack of action, by Pope Pius XII during World War II and the Holocaust, when Hitler's National Socialists murdered millions of Jews and other people, is one of history's mysteries that has led to much speculation and debate. Marxist political filmmaker Costa-Gavras (Z and MISSING) adopts the anti-pope position in his new English language movie, AMEN.

The movie focuses on the true story of SS Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein, a respected chemist who discovers that his superiors are using the Zyklon B pellets that he developed to disinfect soldiers' drinking water to gas imprisoned Jews by the thousands. A team of top SS officers, led by a man known only as "The Doctor," recruits Gerstein to help streamline the process. While trying to do everything he can think of to slow down and delay the process, Gerstein secretly approaches the Swedish Consulate, the German Protestant community, and finally the Vatican, to expose these murderous activities to the whole world. Father Riccardo, a young Jesuit priest with deep family connections at the Vatican, tries to help Gerstein. After many entreaties, however, Pope Pius XII declines to make any overt mention of the Holocaust. Eventually, Father Riccardo dies in the concentration camps, the cynical Doctor escapes to Argentina, and Gerstein hangs himself after the French charge him as a war criminal.

AMEN makes clear that Gerstein's efforts to help the Jews stem from his firm Protestant Christian faith. Playing Gerstein is Ulrich Tukur, who also played Dietrich Bonnhoeffer, the Protestant objector to Hitler's reign of terror, in the MOVIEGUIDE® award-winning video BONHOEFFER: AGENT OF GRACE. Ulrich does another marvelous job as the conscience-stricken SS officer. He does such a good job that it's hard to believe that this movie's Gerstein, a dedicated family man, would have abandoned his wife and kids by committing suicide. Although the movie itself strongly suggests that Gerstein hanged himself, the movie's press notes say that Gerstein could have been murdered by other SS officers in the prison. Ultimately, though, it is Tukur's performance and the restrained direction by Costa-Gavras that makes AMEN so compelling to watch.

Be that as it may, the movie's position that Pope Pius XII did next to nothing to stop Hitler's slaughter of the Jews does not hold water historically. While it probably is true that the pope, not to mention the whole world, did not do nearly enough, there is good evidence that Pope Pius did much to encourage his priests to save as many Jews as they could. Thus, by some accounts, the Roman Catholic church alone helped to save 800,000 Jews or more.

By focusing on only one Roman Catholic priest fighting Hitler's reign of terror, and a fictional, composite character at that, Costa-Gavras rewrites history so that the pope, and his top Vatican officials, look as bad as possible. This, and other things, suggest that Costa-Gavras has an agenda other than merely telling the truth.

All of this, in fact, seems to give AMEN a liberal worldview that undermines the institution of the church, the Bride of Christ. This is the subtle subtext of the movie. Similar liberal viewpoints have led to declines in the power of churches and denominations over their flocks, and over society.

AMEN would have been much more powerful if it had taken a stronger Christian worldview that is more biblical. Apparently, Gerstein's official testimony about the Holocaust, delivered to authorities before he died, provided the Allies with some of their most detailed accounts of Hitler's National Socialist murder mills. In fact, the Allies actually used Gerstein's testimony at the Nuremberg trials. Thus, instead of focusing on the Vatican's alleged apathy and the tragic deaths of Father Riccardo and Gerstein, AMEN should have done more to bring out the positive aspects of the true histrical record. By doing so, the movie could have avoided the spirit of liberal defeatism that occupies its ending. Then, instead of the triumph of evil that overwhelms the movie's end, viewers could have received a picture of the ultimate triumph of God and Truth over great evil.

This shows why the Christian worldview of art is superior to others. It also shows the damage that revisionist history can do to creating art, including filmmaking. For, the history of the world is really the history of the ultimate triumph of God, and the ultimate triumph of Good over Evil and Truth over Falsehood. Filmmakers help themselves when they have a proper Christian worldview and a proper view of history. They are also more likely to better inform viewers and enrich their lives.

Please address your comments to:

Donald Krum, President

Kino International

333 West 39th Street

Suite 503

New York, NY 10018

Phone: (212) 629-6880

Fax: (212) 714-0871

Website: www.kino.com

Email: kinoint@infohouse.com

SUMMARY: AMEN tells the tragic, true story of an SS officer in Hitler's Germany during World War II who secretly tries to get the pope's help in exposing the facts of Hitler's murder of the Jews. A liberal anti-pope attitude, and some revisionist history, diminishes this movie's Christian worldview.

In Brief: