Judgment at Nuremberg


Action / Drama / History / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 93%
IMDb Rating 8.2 10 56908


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April 28, 2014 at 02:01 AM



Judy Garland as Irene Hoffman
William Shatner as Capt. Harrison Byers
Burt Lancaster as Dr. Ernst Janning
Spencer Tracy as Chief Judge Dan Haywood
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1.03 GB
23.976 fps
3hr 6 min
P/S 1 / 19
2.37 GB
23.976 fps
3hr 6 min
P/S 4 / 29

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by gottdeskinos 7 / 10

Emotionalizing for an audience of 1961

First I was worried about the bumpy start. The first trial scenes show constant translating between English and pseudo-German (most actors are obviously not German native speakers). Thank god this stopped after 15 minutes where they switched all to English. (A weird artistic decision, as subtitles would be much more elegant.)

The execution is probably influenced by 12 Angry Men, which came out a few years prior. The movie could have been more focused by centering on fewer characters, also trimming the running time. Performances are outstanding at parts but sometimes heavily overacted. And you have to suspend disbelief sometimes, look beyond fake German accents, which are put on by some actors while others don't even bother.

OK, now to the subject matter, which raises hard questions - if you acknowledge that the world is not always black or white. In many aspects the movie feels very like 1961. Later work of Bernhard Schlink ("The Reader"), for example, demonstrates a more distanced, insightful and complex way to judge guilt within such an inhumane, cruel regime. This movie generally speaking aims mostly for emotionalizing. To an audience of the 21st century, this movie, however, has a different effect as to audiences in 1961 (especially with the dawn of the cold war being noticeable). A lot of scenes address that the USA needed Germany against the Soviets, which influenced the judgement and whether the USA should "go easy" on them.

One key moment is when the prosecuted former judge admits guilt of himself and his country and acknowledges it as important to move forward. Watching this movie in 20xx A.D., one has to notice, that this admittance of guilt (symbolized by certain characters more than others) is a major part of the narrative of German identity by now and has been for decades and generations.

Like the judge had to make a decision from his point of view (after 1945), a today's reviewer has to review from today's perspective. Summing up, the emotional impact this movie aimed for in 1961 is slightly dated by now. (Which is, of course, not to say that the shown filmed evidence of concentration camps is in any way less shocking today.)

Reviewed by Lee Eisenberg 10 / 10

there are several things to consider

Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremberg" is one of the most intense courtroom movies ever. Focusing on the Nazi trials after WWII, it shows how the prosecution sought to remind people that complicity extended to every segment of the population. Indeed, there were people in the courtroom who thought that Germany should forget about what happened and just move on, but the prosecution reminded everyone that forgetting about what happened could lead to a repeat of the atrocities.

There is also a scene that is of particular interest to me. The defense attorney (Maximilian Schell in an Academy Award-winning role) notes that it was not only Germany that was responsible for the Nazis' crimes against humanity. There was the Vatican's Reichskonkordat, the Soviet Union's treaty with Germany setting the stage for the latter's invasion of Poland, and there were a number of US corporations supporting Hitler. In other words, many different countries abetted the Nazis actions as much as the German citizens did.

This is probably one of the most important movies ever made. It reminds us that justice might not move quickly, but must eventually come. Aside from Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster and Richard Widmark in the top roles, we also have Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift in supporting roles, as well as early appearances of William Shatner and Werner Klemperer.

Everyone should see it.

Reviewed by Antonius Block 9 / 10

Fantastic acting, script, and direction in a thought-provoking movie

Outstanding film. Star-studded with several fantastic performances. Highly emotional given the subject matter, but presented in a very intelligent, balanced way. I was struck at once by that, and by how well director Stanley Kramer gives us both sides of the argument – and avoids simply paying lip service to the defense of the German judges on trial. Maximilian Schell is brilliant as the defense attorney, well worthy of his Oscar, and is forceful and compelling in his arguments. There are also so many brilliant scenes. Spencer Tracy walking in the empty arena where the Nazi rallies were held, with Kramer focusing on the dais from which Hitler spoke. The testimony of Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland, both of whom are outstanding and should have gotten Oscars. Burt Lancaster in the role of one of the German judges, the one tortured by his complicity, knowing he and others are guilty. The devastating real film clips from the concentration camps, which are still spine tingling despite all we 'know' or have been exposed to. Marlene Dietrich as the German general's wife, haunted but expressing the German viewpoint, one time while people are singing over drinks. Her night stroll with Tracy, as she explains the words to one song, is touching. It just seemed like there was just one powerhouse scene after another, and the film did not seem long at all at three hours. Heck, you've even got Werner Klemperer and William Shatner before they would become Colonel Klink and Captain Kirk! In this film, the acting, the script, and the direction are all brilliant, and in harmony with one another.

As for the trial itself, the defense argument was along these lines: they were judges (and therefore interpreters), not makers of law. They didn't know about the atrocities in the concentration camps. At least one of them saved or helped many by staying in their roles and doing the best they could under the heavy hand of the Third Reich. They were patriots, saw improvement in the country when Hitler took power, but did not know how far he would go. If you were going to convict these judges, you would have to convict many more Germans (and where would it stop?). The Americans themselves practiced Eugenics and killed thousands and thousands of innocents at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The one small weakness I found was that the defense never makes the simple argument that these judges were forced to do what they did, just as countless others in Germany were, and would have been imprisoned or killed themselves had they not complied. Anyone who's lived under a totalitarian regime may understand, or at least empathize.

I'm not saying I bought into these arguments or that one should be an apologist to Nazis, but the fact that the film presented such a strong defense was thought provoking. How fantastic is it that Spencer Tracy plays his character the way he does – simply pursuing the facts, and in a quiet, thoughtful way. It's the best of humanity. How heartbreaking is Burt Lancaster's character, admitting they knew, admitting their guilt, knowing that what happened was horrible and that they were wrong, and yet seeking Tracy's understanding in that scene in the jail cell at the end – intellectual to intellectual - and being rebuked. Even a single life taken unjustly was wrong. Had the Axis won the war, I don't know which Americans would have been on trial for war crimes for the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo, or for dropping the atomic bombs, but the film makes one think, even for a war when things were seemingly as black and white as they could ever be. The particulars of this trial were fictionalized, but it's representative of what really occurred, and it transports you into events 70 years ago which seem so unreal today – and yet are so vitally important to understand, and remember.

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