A tale based on the life of Wilhelm Furtwangler, the controversial conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic whose tenure coincided with the controversial Nazi era. One of the most spectacular and renowned conductors of the 30s, Furtwangler’s reputation rivaled that of Toscanini’s. After the war, he was investigated as part of the Allies’ de-Nazification programme. In the bombed-out Berlin of the immediate post-war period, the Allies slowly bring law and order—and justice—to bear on an occupied Germany. An American major is given the Furtwangler file, and is told to find everything he can and to prosecute the man ruthlessly. Tough and hard-nosed, Major Steve Arnold sets out to investigate a world of which he knows nothing. Orchestra members vouch for Furtwangler’s morality—he did what he could to protect Jewish players from his orchestra. To the Germans, deeply respectful of their musical heritage, Furtwangler was a demigod; to Major Arnold, he is just a lying, weak-willed Nazi. —IMDb
Great international name of Hungarian film since 1960s. Szabo’s first three films The Age of Illusions, Father and Love Film are often seen as an autobiographical trilogy. In his 1970s films Szabo made several films like 25 Fireman’s Street , Budapest Tale and Confidence which won him Silver Bear in the Berlin Film Festival of that year and Academy Award Nomination in the United States. Szabo made his great international breakthrough with his masterpiece Mephisto (1981) for which he garnered Cannes Film Festival Prix and Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. In 1985 he was credited with Cannes Film Festival Prix and Academy Award Nomination for Colonel Redl. Three years later came out his next film Hanussen, another Academy Award Nomination. In 1991 he directed Sweet Emma, Dear Bobe, winner of Silver Bear of Berlin Film Festival and Best European Screenplay.
A bit stiff despite all of Keitel's explosive scenery chewing, and strictly conventional in the way it dramatizes the contest between bullying American military justice and the rarefied, apolitical -- and therefore easily co-opted by fascism -- worship of culture represented by Furtwangler. But not without power, or complexity, both of which owe their presence in the film to a remarkable Skarsgard performance.