TAKING SIDES

Content -2
Quality
None Light Moderate Heavy
Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: September 05, 2003

Starring: Harvey Keitel, Stellan
Skarsgard, Birgit Minchmayr,
Moritz Bleibtreu, R. Lee
Ermey, and Oleg Tabakov

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Dr. Ted
Baehr TAKING SIDES is a
brilliant movie which receives
an extreme caution, -2, from
MOVIEGUIDE® for some
outbursts of foul language and
documentary footage of naked
Holocaust victims. The movie
starts in the midst of World
War II in a cathedral with the
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
playing Beethoven's Ninth
Symphony. The orchestra is
conducted by Wilhelm
Furtwängler whom, the
audience is told, was the best
conductor of the 20th century.
When the power goes out in the
midst of an air raid, men with
flashlights come to Wilhelm
and tell him he must leave the
country. In the next scene, an
American war crimes advocate
is preparing his researcher,
Major Steve Arnold, played
superbly by Harvey Keitel.
Steve is told in no uncertain
terms to forget justice and
mercy, that all Germans are
Nazis, and the tribunal must
make an example out of the
most visible of them. Because
of his doggedness as an
insurance investigator, Steve
is sent to investigate
Wilhelm. He is given an
assistant, Emmi, whose father
was involved in the plot to
kill Hitler and who was
executed, and another
assistant, David, a German
Jew, who escaped Germany as a
little boy and grew up in
America. Steve tries to put
together a case against
Wilhelm, but everyone says
Wilhelm never joined the Nazi
party, that he rescued many
Jews, and that he believed
that art and politics should
not mix. He browbeats Wilhelm
so mercilessly that Emmi walks
out. She tells Steve he
reminds her of the Gestapo who
questioned her. One informer
makes accusations against
Wilhelm, but they cannot be
proved. Steve wants to reduce
everything to materialistic
motivations. Wilhelm believes
in art, and that there is a
spiritual side of life. He
refused to leave his homeland
because he believed it was
better to stand for something
good than to run. TAKING SIDES
is a brilliant consideration
of these two points of view.
In spite of the predominance
of Steve's voice, one wonders
whether he didn't just adopt
the tactics of the Gestapo, as
Emmi said. One questions
whether this is a show trial
or a serious investigation for
the sake of justice. One
wonders whether there is a
spiritual side to life, or
whether everything is material
in life, as Steve asserts. One
also questions who deserves
forgiveness and whether
everyone is culpable. Thus,
the underlying questions in
TAKING SIDES are spiritual
questions, but the movie does
not take sides. From this
critic's point of view, Steve
loses his case in more ways
than one. These are profound
questions that need to be
considered again and again.
There are, of course, simple
biblical answers, but applying
those answers in difficult
situations requires a great
deal of prayer, hope, and
quiet wisdom. The direction of
this movie is flawless. The
acting captivates. Every part
of the production is
beautifully done. The movie
demands extreme caution
because of Steve's outbursts
of foul language and the
repeated images of dead, naked
Holocaust victims. Steve also
gets drunk with his Russian
counterpart, as each tries to
take advantage of the
other. The interesting part of
the movie is that Emmi and
David, who had the most to
gain from convicting Wilhelm,
yet choose Wilhelm's side. For
mature audiences, this is a
movie worth watching. Please
address your comments
to: Daniel Talbot,
President New Yorker Films 16
West 61st Street, 11th
Floor New York, NY
10023 Phone: (212)
247-6110 Fax: (212) 307-7855

Rating: Not Rated

Runtime: 105 minutes

Distributor: New Yorker Films

Director: István Szabó

Executive Producer:

Producer: Yves Pasquier EXECUTIVE
PRODUCERS: Raimner Mockert,
Rainer Schaper, Jacques
Rousseau, Maureen McCabe, Sir
Jeremy Isaacs, and Michael von
Valkenstein

Writer: Ronald Harwood BASED ON THE
PLAY BY: Ronald Harwood

Address Comments To:

Content:

(C, LLL, V, NNN, AA, D, M) Mild Christian worldview asking profound questions in a very subtle way, such as: Isn't there more to life than materialism? Who deserves forgiveness? Who are the bad guys?; 21 obscenities and 11 profanities; images of Holocaust victims' naked bodies being bulldozed into trenches and brief scuffling when Army Major seizes informer; no sex; nude Holocaust victims in documentary footage; drunkenness; smoking; and the whole question of art versus politics; treachery, lying, informing, and badgering.

GENRE: Drama

C

LLL

NNN

AA

D

M

V

Summary:

TAKING SIDES is a brilliant movie which receives an extreme caution for some outbursts of foul language and documentary footage of naked Holocaust victims. Starring Harvey Keitel, the movie tells the story of the interrogation of a famous German composer, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and in the process considers some of the most important questions of politics, art and life.

Review:

TAKING SIDES is a brilliant movie which receives an extreme caution, -2, from MOVIEGUIDE® for some outbursts of foul language and documentary footage of naked Holocaust victims. The movie starts in the midst of World War II in a cathedral with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra playing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The orchestra is conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler whom, the audience is told, was the best conductor of the 20th century. When the power goes out in the midst of an air raid, men with flashlights come to Wilhelm and tell him he must leave the country.

In the next scene, an American war crimes advocate is preparing his researcher, Major Steve Arnold, played superbly by Harvey Keitel. Steve is told in no uncertain terms to forget justice and mercy, that all Germans are Nazis, and the tribunal must make an example out of the most visible of them. Because of his doggedness as an insurance investigator, Steve is sent to investigate Wilhelm. He is given an assistant, Emmi, whose father was involved in the plot to kill Hitler and who was executed, and another assistant, David, a German Jew, who escaped Germany as a little boy and grew up in America.

Steve tries to put together a case against Wilhelm, but everyone says Wilhelm never joined the Nazi party, that he rescued many Jews, and that he believed that art and politics should not mix. He browbeats Wilhelm so mercilessly that Emmi walks out. She tells Steve he reminds her of the Gestapo who questioned her. One informer makes accusations against Wilhelm, but they cannot be proved. Steve wants to reduce everything to materialistic motivations. Wilhelm believes in art, and that there is a spiritual side of life. He refused to leave his homeland because he believed it was better to stand for something good than to run.

TAKING SIDES is a brilliant consideration of these two points of view. In spite of the predominance of Steve's voice, one wonders whether he didn't just adopt the tactics of the Gestapo, as Emmi said. One questions whether this is a show trial or a serious investigation for the sake of justice. One wonders whether there is a spiritual side to life, or whether everything is material in life, as Steve asserts. One also questions who deserves forgiveness and whether everyone is culpable. Thus, the underlying questions in TAKING SIDES are spiritual questions, but the movie does not take sides.

From this critic's point of view, Steve loses his case in more ways than one. These are profound questions that need to be considered again and again. There are, of course, simple biblical answers, but applying those answers in difficult situations requires a great deal of prayer, hope, and quiet wisdom.

The direction of this movie is flawless. The acting captivates. Every part of the production is beautifully done.

The movie demands extreme caution because of Steve's outbursts of foul language and the repeated images of dead, naked Holocaust victims. Steve also gets drunk with his Russian counterpart, as each tries to take advantage of the other.

The interesting part of the movie is that Emmi and David, who had the most to gain from convicting Wilhelm, yet choose Wilhelm's side. For mature audiences, this is a movie worth watching.

Please address your comments to:

Daniel Talbot, President

New Yorker Films

16 West 61st Street, 11th Floor

New York, NY 10023

Phone: (212) 247-6110

Fax: (212) 307-7855

SUMMARY: TAKING SIDES is a brilliant movie which receives an extreme caution for some outbursts of foul language and documentary footage of naked Holocaust victims. Starring Harvey Keitel, the movie tells the story of the interrogation of a famous German composer, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and in the process considers some of the most important questions of politics, art and life.

In Brief: