Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Cruise Ship, No Pools, February 18, 2012
This review is from: Ship of Fools (Amazon Instant Video)
Before the big commercial cruiselines of today emerged, various countries produced luxury liners that primarily focused on trans Atlantic transportation, without all of the bells and whistles you see today , such as climbing walls, onboard shopping malls, pools, spas,gyms,basketball courts, etc. In this film we are introduced to a German cruise ship, in the year 1933, about to head back to Germany after a 3 week sojourn to Mexico. The movie's striking opening score accompanies the clever use of portraits of the 'Fools' on board to make the shape of the ship...the portaits fading away until we see the ship itself, anchored off the coast of a rebellious Vera Cruz. In the opening scene,we unknowingly see virtually all of the main characters or 'Fools' as they walk the deck circling the 'upper class' part of the ship. A dwarf named Glocken, one of the walking 'Fools' suddenly stops as he sees you, the viewer. He turns towards the camera and addresses us, welcoming us to come aboard and witness the activities and drama of the eclectic group of characters on board. This is a movie that portrays a German ship in the mid 1930's, a time when the Nazi regime and its ideology were gaining a stranglehold on the country and anti=semitic propaganda was being used to fuel the people's anger and thus foster their willingness to support the Nazi's political agenda. Jose Ferrer plays an Austrian 'Wannabe German' character who portays himself as a strong antisemite wishing to 'expunge Germany of it's foreign influences' as he nods his head towards a German gentleman who sits by himself in the dining room because he has been identified as a Jew. This pleasant, but naive Jewish man claims strong devotion to his country, showing off to Glocken. who is eventually seated with him because he is an 'undesireable as well, his medals he received for fighting for Germany in WWI. As promised to us by Glocken, the ship is 'packed with'fools' and a number of interesting sub plots develop, many of which lead to undesireable and often catastrophic endings. The ship's doctor, young but ailing from severe heart disease, does not hide his disgust with the political and social attitudes that abound and to escape them, he becomes involved with a Baroness,exiled from her sugar plantation under duress. Her prior stressors have caused her to becme addicted to narcotics and the doctor gets swept in by his pity for her which soon turns into love. Perhaps the most 'foolish' thing said in the movie emmanates from the Jewish salesman's mouth when he proclaims about the growing tension between German gentiles and German Jews'What are they going to do? Kill us all?' Prophetic words indeed. This is a captivating movie with strong social and political messages. It's brilliant casting abounds with great talent with the likes of Lee Marvin, Jose Ferrer, Vivian leigh, Simone Signoret, Oscar Werner and George Segal. Watch it at least twice to really 'get it'. I have viewed it many times because it is such a superbly constructed film and because I understand the complexities of the characters and their issues a little better each time. Had I been on that ship, when dining I would have been seated with the Jewish salesman and the dwarf, not only because I am Jewish, but because I would have wanted to.
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