#147: Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

When and how did I watch this?

January 30th-February 1st, 2016, on a random site.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

The title of the film kind of speaks to its premise.

What do I know about it now?

I really don’t like courtroom dramas, but I haven’t come across one on this list that I haven’t liked yet.  This is no exception.  It was particularly difficult to follow with a seven month old baby squirming in my arms and having to pause several times to change/feed her, but the intensity and sensitivity of the film was never lost.  Some of the topics and images in this film are highly controversial and really stick with you.  Burt Lancaster (Janning) was absolutely incredible — much like the leaders of the country he represents, the character’s rhetoric in the court room is often convincing, even though I knew that the actions he defends are corrupt in nature. We’re forced to examine our own hearts several times — would I do or say the same things?  We sympathize with the judges being tried — particularly one of them — and admire the fair yet hard-nosed head judge overseeing the trial rather quickly. One has to overlook bad German accents in a couple of cameos (Garland, Dietrich), both of whom I could have done without.

What are some themes in the film?

WWII, the Holocaust, justice, nationalism, humanity, interpretation of law, double standards

Did this affect me personally?

Oh yes.  I think I’ve seen some of the footage, admittedly somewhat gratuitous, but it was no less moving and a convincing “point” for the movie’s most compelling theme.

Why is this ranked #147?

It’s a classic and another WWII film, but it isn’t partial to the “winners” — we’re forced to see a non-partisan perspective of the conflict and its aftermath. I think movie buffs like this aspect in an increasing global disdain for U.S. international policy. Again, Lancaster is perfect.  It’s hard not to revere this one, and it works on a lot of levels.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She didn’t see most of it, but she did catch the gruesome footage.

Would I watch it again?

It’s a little bit long, but I’d go for it.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes.  This is an important film, especially in a modern context.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

No question about it. While not flawless and a bit slow, the unbiased and unabashed examination of the war’s aftermath is unique and significant, while still gripping in its cinematic presentation.

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