Adaptation of Rolf Hochhuth's play about the scientist who created the poison gas used in the Holocaust, and how the Vatican condoned its use.
Costa-Gavras has never been afraid of tackling contentious issues. Yet, he seems reluctant to delve too deeply in this stagey adaptation of Rolf Huchhuth's play, The Representative, which argues that anti-Semitism was far from confined to Germany during the Nazi era.
There are several scathing accounts of Pope Pius XII's ambivalent attitude to the Holocaust. But this screenplay seems content to suggest that he tolerated Hitler (who cynically sanctioned religion) out of a greater fear of the godless Stalin. Further undercutting this historical timidity is the mix of fact and fiction that sees Kurt Gerstein (Tukur) - the real-life scientist who unwittingly introduced the S.S. to Zyklon B gas - attempting to alert the outside world to the true purpose of the concentration camps.
Costa-Gavras' adaptation hardly feels committed to its own powerful material.