Main Menu Audio
Notes-Making It Real
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Special Effects (3:56)
|Year Of Production||2000|
|Running Time||177:12 (Case: 186)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (97:57)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Yves Simoneau|
Magna Home Entertainment
Max Von Sydow
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Pan & Scan||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|