Jud Süß - Film ohne Gewissen
Oscar Roehler and his writers want to tell the life of Ferdinand Marian (Moretti), the allegedly apolitical actor who fatefully agreed to play the role of Jud Süß in the eponymous piece of insidious Nazi propaganda, as a Mephistophelian Greek tragedy. So they add a half-Jewish wife as blackmailing bait here and a completely fictional hidden-then-abandoned Jewish friend there to increase the height of their protagonist’s fall from grace.
Valuing melodrama over historical accuracy is fine – as long as it serves a purpose – but Jud Süß provides little justification for such a blatant rewriting of a so far untold and potentially important Third Reich biography. The cast doesn’t help. Bleibtreu, consistently brilliant when playing variations of himself, disappoints as a hollow Goebbels caricature, and the film follows his lead. No trick is too cheap to achieve that textbook Nazi creepout feel, from the obvious sepia tint to the child returning home from school and reciting anti-Semitic hate rhymes.
It all kind of works as generic drama; but with nothing new or important to say, this “film without conscience” ultimately ends up flirting with German doom-voyeurism.
JUD SÜß - FILM OHNE GEWISSEN | Directed by Riad Sattouf (France 2010) with Vincent Lacoste, Noémie Lvovsky, Anthony Sonigo. Opens in Berlin cinemas on September 23.