Monday, April 11, 2011
Could there be anything new to add to the discussion? Good, a 2008 film, starring Virggo Mortensen, was released on DVD last year. I recently had an opportunity to take a look at it. This film is based on a stage-play written by C. P. Taylor. It played for a number of years on the London stage starting back in 1981. Good is about a German literature professor, John Halder (Virggo Mortensen, who in 1933 writes a novel about euthanasia.
Four years later, he is approached by The SS (The Schutzstaffel, Protection Squadron), concerning his writings. They see this as an opportunity to use Halder’s writings for propaganda. Because he is an intellectual, the SS believes Halder gives them added credibility for the cause.
Halder’s life is anything but simple. With a sick mother, a wife who is dealing with depression, and a mistress who is urging him to embrace Nazi philosophy, Halder is walking a fine line between two worlds. Halder is what many call the “good German”. He is a liberal, mild-mannered intellectual who somehow gets mixed up in the century’s worst crime, the plan to exterminate of an entire race of people. Is Halder to blame? Or is he a victim of mere circumstances.
Perhaps, it would be comforting to believe that all Germans, as well as the Nazis themselves, were totally evil. But Good offers a slightly different view—is it possible that good men by the act of doing nothing are capable of being part of evil acts. Is Halder naïve or totally stupid? Does he see only what he wants to see? He is on a slippery slope. One thing leads to another. Then everything spirals out of control.
Good is not a perfect movie. At times, it is slow, feels out of sync, and lacks pace and action. The world we see is through the eyes of Halder, and we never quite get to see the bigger picture of what is actually taking place in Germany in the 1930s. That’s because it is only a snapshot of Halder’s very personal story; therefore, it lacks a more grand scale that could have made this a better movie. There is not even a hint of German accents in this film. To make matters worse, the actors speak with eloquent King’s speech. That sort of takes away from the overall effect of the film.
With that said, Good still gets my recommendation as a film that is worth viewing because this is an important subject which offers insight into the human condition. Matters of good and evil are far more complicated than we ever can imagine, and sometimes they become blended together. Good is rated R for some language, so a word of caution. It is available on DVD but will be difficult to find.