God on Trial
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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.
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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
This video, while wrenching in its depiction of the suffering humans inflict on one another, does not solve the question of God's involvement in suffering. Those who have given up on biblical religion will be outraged that the inmates pray at the end, while many of those who still adhere to biblical religion will find the prosecutor's description of the biblical God disturbing. The question of suffering, however, is one we OUGHT to be disturbed by, and the movie presents it compellingly, even if it doesn't provide an answer.