Nuremberg (2000)

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Released 8-Jun-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Notes-Making It Real
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Special Effects (3:56)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 177:12 (Case: 186)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (97:57) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yves Simoneau
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Alec Baldwin
Jill Hennessy
Brian Cox
Michael Ironside
Matt Craven
Len Cariou
Herbert Knaup
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Colm Fedre
Robert Joy
Max Von Sydow
Christopher Plummer
Case Click
RPI $29.00 Music Richard Gregoire


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   After every war, it seems that the victors have the power to exact retribution upon the losers. It seems to have be an unwritten law of war for centuries. Unfortunately, the end of World War One saw the victors exact their retribution upon Germany in the form of massive reparations. These reparations were massively damaging to Germany, thus creating serious discontent - a discontent that proved to be the breeding ground for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Thus, in the aftermath of World War Two, there was a strong desire to not punish the people of Germany for the actions of their leaders but rather punish those leaders for their crimes against humanity - and to hopefully lay down some guidelines for a peaceful future. Those desires were brought to realization in the devastated city of Nuremberg in 1945 and 1946 - a choice of location that was most profound, since in many ways Nuremberg was a spiritual home for the Nazi Party as it was the location of some of their biggest rallies.

   The difficult task of setting the precedents that would hopefully ensure that the likes of the Final Solution would never happen again was handed to a hand-picked collection of men. The choice of President Truman for the chief prosecutor from the United States was Justice Robert Jackson (Alec Baldwin) and it fell upon him to bring the whole thing to fruition, and so he sets off to Germany with the rudiments of his team, plus his attractive secretary Elsie Douglas (Jill Hennessy), to find the location for the trial and to get everything set up in preparation for the most fundamental display of global jurisprudence to date. With his team and those of England, headed by Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe (Christopher Plummer), France and the Soviet Union, a collection of 22 members of the Third Reich are brought together at the prison at Bad Mandour to prepare to answer the indictments. Of course, the greatest plum that was to come to justice was the second-in-command of the Third Reich and head of the Luftwaffe - Hermann Goering (Brian Cox). The charges against he and his 20 fellow prisoners (one committed suicide before the trial) were relatively simple, but this tribunal with a representative from each of the four nations was tasked with delivering a verdict upon each of the 21 defendants. Therefore it was up to the prosecutors to prove their case against the defendants. The fact that some defendants were acquitted should not be seen as a failure but rather as a triumph of fair play over hatred.

   The fact that the subject matter of this mini-series, made for television in 2000, is history is one of the major problems for it to overcome. Just how do you keep the level of audience interest up for nearly three hours when we know that most of the Third Reich butchers were executed, with only a few escaping with jail terms? It may be a difficult task, but they have succeeded pretty well here. The screenplay does a fairly decent job of taking the salient points of the book Nuremberg: Infamy On Trial (an excellent read by the way, thoroughly recommended) and weaving them into a story that does its best to show some interesting aspects of the trial. Whilst there is perhaps a little too much concentration upon the charismatic character of Hermann Goering, and his relationship with his jailers, the result is not in the least bit laborious.

   I would hardly consider this as containing some stellar examples of acting but overall it is well-handled. Alec Baldwin does a fair job as the chief prosecutor, although perhaps lacking the ultimate in emotional depth. Jill Hennessy does a good job as the female love (?) interest, an aspect of the film that thankfully was not pursued with relish, although again lacking a little in emotional depth. Perhaps the most interesting performance was from Michael Ironside, as Colonel Burton C Andrus, the chief jailer at Bad Mandour. This is a tough-as-nails approach that provides an interesting contrast to the lighter side of Hermann Goering. Andrus is a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails soldier determined to ensure that these b******s are going to trial and are going to live, just so that they can be hanged. There is nothing much memorable amongst the rest of the cast in broad terms, but this does give the film a decent strength across-the-board. Director Yves Simoneau has done a good job bringing this all together and despite the slightly shallow emotional performances, has achieved a sense of absorbing theatre without resorting to too many clichés. There is also an interesting use of newsreel footage in framing the film.

    Whilst I could have wished for more emotional depth here, this would appear to present a reasonably accurate potted record of the trial. However, the scope of a three hour telemovie (or mini series) is simply not enough to do real justice to this sort of event. And you should be cautioned that there is some disturbing footage of the sights found upon liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies. Whilst much of it has been seen before, it is still harrowing stuff. Hardly essential viewing overall but if you feel the need to indulge in some history, then this will suffice as a broad primer to the full story of Nuremberg. However, I would strongly recommend that you read the book upon which the film is based, as well as the book by Albert Speer which provides a fascinating insight into his life including his twenty years in Spandau prison.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The first thing that stood out for me here was the fact that this being a recent made-for-television effort, I would have expected a widescreen presentation. From the limited information I could track down regarding the technical specifications for the film, it would seem that it was shot widescreen and therefore the fact that we have a Pan and Scan version is not exactly thrilling. I am suggesting that it is Pan and Scan on the basis of the composition of some shots that have a heavy left or right orientation to the frame. Should anyone have definitive information regarding this point, we would be happy to hear from you. The transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.

    I was actually quite impressed with the quality of the transfer here. Whilst it is not amongst the upper echelon of exquisite transfers, there really is not much wrong with it. Sharpness is generally pretty good, with only some minor inconsistencies to blemish the copybook, and to be honest some of those might just be due to eye tiredness after a couple of hours of viewing. Detail was pretty good all the way through and better than I was expecting. Shadow detail was good in general, but showing just a few lapses in certain night-time scenes to betray the television source of the film. Clarity was good throughout, with only a few sections noticeably suffering from some minor grain. There did not appear to be any problems with low level noise in the transfer. Overall I would say this is one of the better looking efforts to come from television material that I have seen - just nothing near a stunning feature film.

    Each of the two "episodes" making up the telemovie commence with some historic newsreel footage, which is not of the same quality as the rest of the programme. I had no problem with this, even though it suffers more noticeably with problems such as grain and film artefacts. However, it is nicely integrated into the actual film itself and there is a very nice segueing from newsreel black and white to film black and white to film colour. The quality of the colours here are quite good. They have been rendered in a period style so there is little in the way of bright colours here and plenty of flat looking colours. This actually suits the film well with the military greens looking very natural indeed. The colours become a bit more vibrant during the court scenes, but nothing to get really enthused about. There could perhaps have been a bit more saturation here overall, but I have nothing to really complain about. There are no problems with oversaturation and colour bleed here, other than in the rather poor looking red opening credits (just why do people insist on red credits?).

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Apart from the archival footage which obviously suffers badly from film artefacts, there did not appear to be much of a problem with these in the transfer.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming just a tad too obviously at 97:57. This is just at a scene change, but I can't help but feel that there were better places to hide the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is just the one soundtrack on offer on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

    The dialogue comes up clearly and is easy to understand. There did not appear to be any serious audio sync problems in the transfer. I would suggest that early on in the second part of the film there was just a hint of the audio being out of sync but it may just be poor ADR work.

    The music for the film comes from Richard Grégoire (misspelt on the slick by the way) - decent enough but nothing too memorable.

    There is nothing spectacular about the soundtrack. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, apart from a distinct lack of dynamic at times, I just felt that we could have expected better here. There is no surround channel action really and the bass channel was lifeless throughout. The latter was especially noticeable at times, such as during the slamming of cell doors, since I really missed that ringing clang. Other than that, there is nothing wrong with the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A not especially terrific package but there are some nice distinctive touches worth mentioning.

Menu

    An interesting aspect of the menus is the way that the highlighter reflects what you are selecting. For instance, in the biographies, it changes to the different initials of each person as you highlight them. A nice distinctive touch that I don't recall seeing before. Another one is the fact that there are page numbers on each page of the written notes here. That is something nice to see. Other than that, some minor audio enhancement rounds out decent menus.

Production Notes - Making It Real

    Thirty three pages of notes and photos about the quest for accuracy in the film. Pretty good overall.

Biographies - Cast and Crew

    Decently extensive biographical notes about the main cast, the director and executive producer, that run to a total of forty-four pages.

Featurette - Special Effects (3:56)

    Not really a featurette but rather an advertisement for the work of Calibre Digital Pictures. Whilst it does show some of the work in the film, most of it is generic stuff and I consider this to be nothing but advertising and thus not an extra. It is presented in a Full Frame format with 1.85:1 aspect ratio extracts, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version misses out on:     The Region 4 version misses out on:     On the face of it, the Region 1 release is the winner due to the widescreen presentation. The original release does however seem to suffer from a glitch at the layer change.

Summary

    Nuremberg (2000) is something I enjoyed a lot more than I was expecting, but at the end of the day is still a bit lightweight for something as important as these war crimes trials. The film has, however, been given a generally very decent transfer and an effort has been made with the extras package. At the end of the day though, it might not be your cup of tea for an evening's entertainment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Saturday, June 30, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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