The film "Amen." examines the links between the Vatican and Nazi Germany. The central character is Kurt Gerstein, a member of the Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS who is horrified by what he sees in the death camps. Moreover, he is shocked to learn that the process he used to purify water for his troops, by using zyklon, served as a basis to kill people in gas chambers.
|Release Date||:||February 13, 2002|
|Production Company||:||Renn Productions, TF1 Films Production, Canal+, K.G Productions, KC Medien, Katharina|
|Production Countries||:||France, Germany, Romania|
|Director||:||Costa-Gavras, Andra Barbuica|
|Writers||:||Costa-Gavras, Jean-Claude Grumberg, Rolf Hochhuth|
|Casts||:||Ulrich Tukur, Mathieu Kassovitz, Ulrich Mühe, Michel Duchaussoy, Marcel Iureș, Ion Caramitru, Friedrich von Thun, Antje Schmidt, Günther Maria Halmer, Hanns Zischler, Sebastian Koch, Monica Bleibtreu, Justus von Dohnányi, Pierre Franckh, August Zirner, Susanne Lothar, Michael Mendl, Nina Proll, Hinnerk Schönemann|
|Plot Keywords||:||vatican, pope, concentration camp, holocaust, schutzstaffel, nazis, nazi germany, doctor, conscience, catholicism, euthanasia|
The challenge for Kurt Gerstein after the war, in the hands of the allies, and for Costa-Gavras in this film, is to convince us that he, Kurt Gerstein S.S. officer, was bravely acting as the "eyes of God" in watching the holocaust unfold before his eyes. It is hard to believe that a man of conscience could actively participate in something he found so entirely heinous. But the amazing work of Gavras and Ulrich Tukur who plays Gerstein succeeds. It is very difficult to play a noble and virtuous man and not become a saintly characature. Tukur succeeds in rounding out a believable character who inspires us to believe in man's innate goodness. Indeed Tukur pretty much has to carry this film and he does. Kudos. Mathieu Kassovitz as the young Jesuit priest is not as strong but his character is less central to the story.
This film is very powerful. In it's veiled presentation of the holocaust it manages to convey the horror with as much emotional impact as any previous film dealing with this dark history. The real sorrow, for me, is to watch our protagonists struggle believing that "if only the world knew" there would be an outpouring of outrage that would put a stop to the atrocities. Unfortunately these good men don't seem to grasp the darker side of human nature that can turn a blind eye. In the final chapter a brilliant plot twist brings home the horror in the most personal of ways to all of those Vatican "diplomats".
A powerful, horrible and beautiful film.