Taking Sides Review

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Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler's post-war travails cast new light on life within the Third Reich.


Exploring the dilemma facing an artist within a totalitarian system and America's self-perceived monopoly on moral rectitude, István Szabó's adaptation of Ronald Harwood's 1995 stage study of conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler's post-war travails casts new light on life within the Third Reich.

Though literate and politically provocative, it's not always the most subtle of dramas, with Harvey Keitel often reduced to ranting as the supposedly Philistinic military investigator out to prove that Furtwängler didn't just acquiesce in the Nazi regime, but collaborated with it.

However, Moritz Bleibtreu and Birgit Minichmayr restore balance as the assistants horrified by Keitel's disrespect for a musical genius, while Skarsgård captures the deflated arrogance of a titan who's rediscovered his humanity too late to assuage his conscience. Powerful, personal, but bombastic.

Powerful, personal, but bombastic.