The Good German – Movie Review

‘The Good German’ was one movie which I had been massively procrastinating upon. And it was only after I watched it that I realized what a mistake I had made. The first thing that I saw on one of the TV channels about this movie was the fact that the director Steven Soderbergh had shot it on black and white photographic film in the ‘Classical Hollywood’ style, and this probably was the only reason that my interest in it had been piqued something close to a year ago. Plus the fact that it starred George Clooney and Cate Blanchett was also reason enough for me to watch this movie at some point in time. But man, was I blown away by the movie or what.

The plot of the movie deals with events occurring in Berlin after the World War II ended in Europe when the Japanese were still holding fort. Jacob Geismar (Clooney), a War Correspondent with the US Army returns to Berlin during the Potsdam negotiations between the Allied Powers, with the sole intention of finding his former lover Lena Brandt (Blanchett) and renew his ties with her. He gets entwined in the murder of his driver Tully (Tobey Maguire) and the clandestine search for Lena’s husband, Emil Brandt by both the Russian and the US forces. His curiosity and amateurish investigative attempts end up in him unearthing Operation Overcast involving a former Nazi concentration camp Dora which was part of the German V2 Rocket program. The situation gets messier and messier as Geismar uncovers link after link each of which complicates the situation even further.

How Geismar untangles the web of ignorance and figures out how Lena is involved in this whole situation forms the rest of the story. He figures out that the US forces are trying to get to Franz Bettmann, Chief Production Engineer of the Program, with whom Emil Brandt was working as a secretary. They are trying to get to Brandt so that they could erase any document or record which could prove that Brettman was a ‘war criminal’. This way they could get Brettman to work for them without any evidence whatsoever that he was ever involved in ‘crimes against humanity’. Lena, with her husband are however determined to tell their story to the world, and hence the title ‘The Good German’ in obvious reference to Emil Brandt.

Although the screenplay of the movie obviously deals with the murders and Geismar’s attempts to uncover the truth, the deeper underlying theme here is that of some of the events that occurred in these tumultuous times that most of us conveniently like to either overlook or are plainly unaware of. For example, how many of us knew that the Americans actually employed Nazi rocket scientists post WW-II. Or the fact that almost all the Allied forces engaged in activities such as looting, pillaging and raping German women during their periods of occupation of Berlin and other prominent German cities.

Speaking from a pure film-making angle, this movie is simply brilliant as it takes you right back to Hollywood movies from the 1940s and 50s with almost every aspect. The angles, the lighting, the background score, the sets, the actors, the props, all of these remind viewers of classic Humphrey Bogart movies of that era. And this, if not anything else, make this movie worth watching at least once, if not more times.

All in all, a brilliant movie involving a good script, good screenplay, the talented brain of Steven Soderbergh, masterful performances by George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. Do grab this movie and pop it into the DVD player sometime soon if you haven’t already done so.


Related links
Wikipedia link
IMDB link
Rotten Tomatoes link
Metacritic link
AllMovie link

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