Search - God on Trial on DVD


God on Trial
God on Trial
Actors: Stellan Skarsgard, Dominic Cooper, Rupert Graves, Blake Ritson, Eddie Marsan
Director: Andy DeEmmony
Genres: Drama, Special Interests, Television
NR     2009     1hr 26min

Studio: Wgbh Wholesale Release Date: 01/13/2009 Run time: 86 minutes

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Stellan Skarsgard, Dominic Cooper, Rupert Graves, Blake Ritson, Eddie Marsan
Director: Andy DeEmmony
Genres: Drama, Special Interests, Television
Sub-Genres: Religion, Religion & Spirituality, Drama
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/20/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2008
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 26min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Exploring the meanings of suffering and evil
P. Sexton | Missouri | 11/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Masterpiece Theater film is a Masterpiece
Hazel Reinert | Austin, Texas | 11/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Public television at its finest
taki renzaburo | antarctica | 11/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Questioning God
Amos Lassen | Little Rock, Arkansas | 01/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

""God on Trial"

Questioning God

Amos Lassen

"God on Trial" is perhaps the most powerful film I have ever seen and I am still shaking as I write this review. One of the universal questions many of us have had is where was God during the Holocaust? That is usually followed by what kind of God could have allowed something like the Holocaust happen? The God that chose the Jews to be His people was now a God that many did not understand and this was the same God that led the children of Israel from slavery to freedom. Questions like these occur in every generation and most of us have no real answers. In this film, God is put on trial and it is all very convincing, emotional and powerful.
In the filthy barracks at Auschwitz, a group of Jews await their fate. They know that half of them will go to the gas chambers within a short period and most of them are paralyzed by fear, despair and hunger. Yet there is one angry inmate who rails against God and his anger provokes others to react and soon the men agree to put God on trial. They organize a tribunal of judges in the tradition of Judaism. As the drama progresses it confronts the major issue of human existence for most--the basis of faith and it does so in a carefully researched and articulate way. This question of faith is placed in a time and place that have become supreme examples of inhumanity. The barracks were oppressive and yet they are the perfect setting for the drama that tugs at our emotions and challenges our thinking.
I was not familiar with the actual event that this film is based upon but I am definitely going to find out more about it. When the imprisoned Jews decided to have a trial to decide if God was guilty for their living hell, tempers rise and reason takes a step aside but returns when the trial begins. The drama is totally convincing and is a powerful history lesson as the men begin to argue their cases for and against God. They use moments in Jewish history that are accurate and discuss Torah as they present their views. Many of the points they make are not only logical but perfect which shows how much deep thought and preparation went into this.
The cast is superior and includes some of the finest British actors today--Anthony Sher, Stellan Skarsgard, Stephen Dillane, Dominic Cooper, Rupert Graves and Jack Shepherd. However, I must single out Eddie Marsan who tells the heartbreaking story of his three sons being taken from him by Nazis and he was given the choice of saving only one of them. Anthony Sher as Akiba also gives an outstanding performance. He says nothing for the first hour of the film but what he says when he finally speaks is shocking and actually determines the outcome of God's trial. His speech is one I doubt I shall ever forget.
The emphasis of the film is on the arguments. It is almost impossible for a concentration camp inmate to affirm a belief in God yet many did--before, after and during the war. Many
explanations for God's actions are presented here and some have complained that the speeches are lofty and wordy. I firmly disagree. I found the arguments enlightening, interesting and thought-provoking.
The story is cleverly framed with a busload of tourists who go to Auschwitz and visit the actual place where the trial took place and the ending is an extremely moving scene. When we first see the men, they have already been divided into who will die that night and who will live another day. Suddenly a group of Poles arrives earlier than expected and when the two groups come together there is uneasiness among some of the men who feel that God has broken his covenant with the Jewish people.
Andy De Emmony has taken what could have been a maudlin subject and breathed life into it as he directed with style and grace.
The writer, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, wanted to write a drama about the Holocaust but was tired of the emotional films so he decided to write a debate drama. The question that he raises is "when did God turn against the Jews, or did he?" This is what the film concerns itself with during its entirety and if you think this may bore you for 90 minutes, think again. I sat on the edge of my chair, anticipating the next speech.
One critic called the film "12 Angry Men in Pajamas" and I thought he was being ludicrous but then I realized that he liked nothing about the film and probably thought that there never had really been a Holocaust. But then he surprised me by saying that this was an event not to be missed. From the moment the film opens we are wrenched back to the past. Interesting is the way the trial came about--the Polish rabbi, played by Stephen Dillane, states that there is an honorable Biblical tradition of theological disputation and from here the sides form. Both sides of the debate are presented with unexpected revelations. When the last speaker presents his case by giving an inventory of God's Biblical crimes (and I challenge you to find them and they are there), the verdict for God's guilt is handed down. Some of the prisoners said that man is not capable of seeing the entirety of the universe as God does and that it is not our place to question the ways of God. Others contended that God is fundamentally cruel but he has, on occasion, sided with the Jewish people. The Holocaust is evidence that God was no longer siding with the Jews while others felt that God was guilty of abandoning his people. A notable reference made by the French scientist in the group refers to the number of stars in the universe, each of which could have its own solar system. Do those in the barracks actually believe that with all that God has to do that he really pays attention to one tiny spot in space.
The role of free will is also debated. One says that if we know of right and wrong, how is it that we do not question God's role in the destruction of millions of people? If we believe to be holy is to emulate a God who annihilates us, who acts without justice, are we to understand that we are not responsible for choosing right instead of what we know to be wrong?
As the trial ensues we are constantly aware that any moment, the Nazi guards will come to take those that have been selected to die and this inevitability ends greatly to the drama Until the guards come there are various possible verdicts but in the end we are left with not only the questions we began with but several more.
Let me close by saying that I have found references to the trial in the literature of the Holocaust and although it cannot be proven that it ever happened the idea gives us a stunning, shattering and convincing film. Although the film is specifically about Jewish prisoners, it also has universal appeal in the fundamental questions of existence that everyone asks sometime in their life.
The paradox comes at the very end which is almost drama of the absurd--now that God has been found guilty, what have we to do? We must, of course, pray.

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