Here are just some of the reasons why I can keep watching this movie, over and over again:

  • a good person is tempted by ‘evil’ and you really get to see the most common, and catchy, excuses people start to make when they go down a path that they know is not right
  • Jason Isaacs is amazing in his role as the psycho-analyst and friend of Viggo Mortensen’s character, a college professor who enthusiastically teaches Proust, but has also written a novel that – accidentally- appeals to the Nazis
  • you can feel the friendship between the two men, so it hurts when their bond becomes very strained indeed
  • there’s a slick student in the film that shamelessly tries to break up her professor’s marriage, and she’s very convincing
  • rarely does one see a character struggle with so many real life elements, career, marriage, sex, friendship, loyalty, parents, passions, guilt, ambition… Viggo Mortensen really brings a rich character to life
  • it briliantly portrays Germany’s slow, and yes, exciting (!) descent into hell… Through this movie you can really understand how so many people could be enticed by a regime that turned out to be so murderous. Like the frog that doesn’t realize the water around him is slowly reaching its boiling point
  • as a therapist I find it interesting that the main character and his psychoanalyst are also drinking buddies. Impossible to imagine these days!
  • you get the feeling of how attractive ambition can be, trumping other things we value
  • it shows how hard it was – in unexpected ways – to do the right thing in those days without severely damaging one’s own position
  • it shows the gradual loss of rights of German jews
  • Jason Isaacs character doesn’t feel jewish at the start, he feels German and is proud to be a German, he fought for Germany in the great war (the first world war), but with all the restrictions the regime puts on him, he can’t help but to start identifying more with jews
  • I also like the clever ways in which the professor does try to protect his friend
  • a big bonus is the vibe of male camaraderie that the movie gives off. It comes close to how I talk with my ‘buddies’ in real life.
  • and if this movie still doesn’t cover enough ground, it also shows the struggles of worrying about an aging parent
  • the movie had me wondering if my best friend would safe me if he were the professor and I the jew and if I would save him if the roles were reversed. A truly exceptional movie should leave you asking questions like that
  • It’s listed as one of my 150 favorite movies, because it immerses you in a very real experience, you come away understanding humanity better. It’s hard for people to understand something is wrong, if their salary depends on their NOT understanding it. That’s just one of the insights this movie conveys. Plus, somehow, they got the light right in the this movie. It has beautiful colors, you can almost taste it, and it tastes like real life, bittersweet, and a sour stab in the middle, with a spicy twist here and there.
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