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God on Trial

4.9 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Antony Sher, Rupert Graves, Dominic Cooper, and Stellan Skarsgard star in this harrowing drama about believers and non-believers coming to terms with a world drenched in evil and suffering. Celebrated screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyces script is based on the often told, but unconfirmed, story that a group of prisoners facing extermination at Auschwitz convened a rabbinical court to ask who is to blame for the greatest of all crimes.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Stellan Skarsgard, Dominic Cooper, Rupert Graves, Blake Ritson, Eddie Marsan
  • Directors: Andy DeEmmony
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: January 20, 2009
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001HZ30O0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,047 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Sexton on November 16, 2008
Format: DVD
I watched "God on Trial" on Masterpiece on November 8, 2008. I found it to be an excellent film, well written and splendidly executed. The men of the film, prisoners at Auschwitz and daily facing death, put God on trial, questioning His commitment to the Jewish people. Why have the Jews suffered so if they are truly the Chosen People and the People of the Covenant? The discussion is deep, moving and at times shattering. I was touched by this film. As a Christian and a student of the Holocaust, I found this to be an excellent film and honest discussion. I highly recommend this film.
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Format: DVD
I just viewed this on PBS. It was excellent. It asks all of the most difficult questions that we all have about this most dark time of our history has human beings - especially those trying to understand G-d in such a time. And it doesn't end with neat answers and happily ever afters. It isn't afraid to ask things about G-d that are usually considered unspeakable. Neither is G-d diminished by the questions. For those that can handle it, it is a most worthwhile endeavor to be challenged by these questions, and to seek to come up with our own answers. The charge: Did G-d keep His covenant or did He break the contract He made. Excellent use of television.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a philosophy professor at an American university and whenever I teach an introductory philosophy course, I show my students this movie. I highly recommend it to those who are intrigued by the intersection of history, philosophy and religion.

The movie is set as a many-sided socratic dialog and it evaluates the problem of evil from the point of view of the Old-Testament. I enjoyed watching it at an intellectual level but it is also one of the most depressing movies I have ever seen. No graphic violence or gore, though. Just point blank argument vs counter argument, by which a roomful of Jewish concentration camp prisoners try to determine if God should be blamed for the whirlwind of horror, suffering and death surrounding them.

However, the movie is not at all just dry, abstract reasoning. It is emotionally provoking (to almost a traumatizing degree) and full of moving scenes and twists where the actors perform brilliantly and quite believably.

My only critical comment is that for some reason, the publishers of this DVD chose to market it as a "MASTERPIECE" and added a 4 minute footage to the beginning and the end of the original movie. In the extra footage, a young well groomed man with a smile as big as the Titanic lectures about how deep and masterful the whole movie is. This pompous packaging creates almost a comical contrast with the dark, realistic and modest outlook of the movie. I would recommend that the viewers skip the extra footage. When I watched the movie for the first time, I watched the extra footage unknowingly and I think it was detrimental to my overall viewing experience.

5 out of 5 stars
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Format: DVD
Is an attrocity such as the holocaust compatible with a belief in a benevolent god? This question is argued passionately on both sides by the Jewish inmates of a concentration camp as they await their probable deaths at the hands of the nazis. Most of the talking points of the current atheist - theist dialectic are discussed in a wide-ranging, intelligent, and provocative debate. With fine performances, taut direction, and an incisive script, this is a first rate drama that builds to an emotionally charged conclusion.
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Format: DVD
"God on Trial" is an insightful production in the Masterpiece Contemporary series that focuses on a group of Auschwitz inmates who convene a rabbinical court that basically puts God on trial on the charge that God broke his covenant with the Chosen Ones, the sons of Abraham. There are some amazing performances here from some familiar names - Stellan Skarsgard plays a former law professor who presides over the court, Rupert Graves is Mordechai, a modern Jew who is shunned by his father [Jack Shepherd] for turning his back on the traditional Jewish ways, Dominic Cooper plays an angry young Jew who rails against God for forsaking His people, and many more memorable performances.

The arguments swing back and forth as the various individuals make their case - be it in favor of a benevolent God who imposes suffering for a greater good or against an indifferent, wrathful God. This production is first-class - the dialogue is driven by intellectual insights that compel the viewer to think about a lot of things that may cross one's mind but that one never really gives voice to - how does one reconcile a benevolent God with acts of such brutality as perpetrated during the Holocaust and since then [Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur etc], questions to do with Man's faith, the nature of God etc. I could not stop thinking about all these things long after the show ended.

The introduction to the actual court setting [in an inmates' barracks] is well done - a busload of tourists get off at Auschwitz during a tour, and as they are led from site to site, an older visitor mentions an anecdote about the time some inmates put God on trial. This then provides the setting for the flashback to the past.
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