Jud Süß (1940) Poster


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Loving Jud Suss
Danusha_Goska16 October 2009
I loved "Jud Suss," both the film and the character.

Loving this movie was disturbing. "Jud Suss" was commissioned and overseen by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister and Reich Plenipotentiary for Total War. The film was shown before Nazis began rounding up Jews. "Jud Suss" played a direct, horrific, role in the Holocaust. You can't talk about this film without that nightmare hovering over every word you say.

I ended up writing a long essay entitled "Loving Jud Suss." The essay is now linked from my homepage. I hope interested readers will have a look and share their thoughts. I'll try to convey the gist here.

First, this is a well-made, vintage, costume melodrama slash swashbuckler. If you like Golden Age, black-and-white, big budget, studio adaptations of popular novels set in the eighteenth century, chances are you could enjoy many aspects of this film: palace intrigue, fast pace, romance, period detail.

I watched "Jud Suss" as if on split screens. The Nazis want the viewer to see an amoral, crafty Jew who destroys the life of a German city, Stuttgart, by introducing ballet, flirtation, and parties, by instituting a tax to improve the region's poor roads, and by allowing Jews entry to the city. I resisted what the Nazis wanted me to see. I like ballet. I live in a state with toll roads; good roads have to be paid for somehow. I don't think that allowing Jews, or any minority, out of their ghetto and into previously segregated neighborhoods is a bad thing.

I could *also* see what the Nazis did not want me to see. I could see how the film lays bare the self pity, sense of personal victimization, and exaggerated view of the power of the other that is at the heart of racism and prejudice. The main German characters in "Jud Suss" are pathetic. Faber is a ninety-pound weakling and insufferable bigot. He can't even consummate a kiss, never mind a marriage, with his beloved, Dorothea. Dorothea is beautiful but simpleminded and insincere. She wants Suss but can't handle her own desire. Councilman Sturm, Rader, and Duke Karl Alexander are all obese, shouting, ineffectual old men. That Nazis held up blowhard Sturm and prissy bigot Faber as the heroes of the piece tells you how skewed – and how foreign to our modern sensibilities – was the Nazi value system.

In seeing both what the Nazis wanted me to see and what they did not want me to see, I could see the absurdity and ethical and intellectual bankruptcy of Nazi ideology. That exercise made this one of the most fascinating film watching experiences I've ever had.

Ferdinand Marian, as Joseph Suss-Oppenheimer, made this movie. He is on screen for almost the entire film; even when he is not, he is the super potent center of others' attention. Marian's is one of the most riveting, charismatic performances I've ever seen. I could not take my eyes off him from his first scene to the last.

Off-screen events add to the unforgettable quality of Marian's performance. The story is that Marian did not want to take this role, and was so distraught when Goebbels forced him into it that he got drunk and destroyed his own apartment with an ax. Marian died in a car accident, and the rumor is that he killed himself, because of this role and its horrible history.

All the principles involved in "Jud Suss" made some excuse or another to try to get out of it. Goebbels tightened the screws and forced them into it. They later claimed that they did everything they could to make Suss as sympathetic as possible under the circumstances.

I read Ferdinand Marian's "Jud Suss" as an unforgettably sympathetic character. Even as I was watching the film, even as I was seeing it on a split screen, with the Nazi version on one side and my own interpretation on another, I also saw the tumultuous surrounding events. I saw the real Joseph Suss Oppenheimer, an historical figure who was tortured and executed in eighteenth-century Stuttgart. His killers kept his body on display for six years. I saw Ferdinand Marian, the actor, forced to act in a film he wanted no part of. I saw Jud Suss, the character in the movie, a lone Jew surrounded by bigoted, narrow, primitive proto-Nazis who made his, and their own lives, a misery, because they insisted that only Jews could be so perverse as to bring culture, modernity, and eroticism to a decent, clean, lifeless German city. My sympathy overflowed for Suss the character, Marian the actor, and the historical Suss-Oppenheimer. A Nazi propaganda film achieved the feat of rendering the German characters in the film universally repulsive, and the one Jewish character irresistibly sympathetic. That being the case, it's all the more tragic that Marian ended his own life over this role.

Scholars emphasize the charisma and appeal of Marian's depiction. In fact, the director, Veit Harlan, reported that Marian received "baskets of love letters." It is more than a bit weird that one of the sexiest overtly Jewish characters in the history of cinema is a character in a Nazi propaganda film.
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jailynsteve14 August 2018
This is a fantastic; truly eye-opening film. After watching this, a great follow up film to watch is: "Adolf Hitler The Greatest Story Never Told". You can watch it completely free on Youtube.
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Anything but a Beloved Children's Author
conjo18-13 January 2006
From his opening scene of ringed fingers running greedily over gems and jewels to his pathetic cries for salvation at his hanging, the "historically accurate" portrayal of Court Jew Suss Oppenheimer is a brilliant work of film-propaganda and an eye-opening understanding of the Nazi perspective. Except for the slobbery and entranced German Duke – caught under Oppenheimer's spell – Germans come across as a clean, clean shaven, proud, culturally profound and subjugated people, oppressed by Oppenheimer's avaricious rule and his grant of Jews into Württemberg. The classic elements of predator and prey, people versus government, (and occasionally at the expense of art) good against evil are employed to paint a masterpiece of propaganda, layering Oppenheimer and the Jewish people with every conceivable ingredient of wickedness.

The film shows little patience (though not without artfulness) with portraying Oppenheimer as a devious Jew, giving up even his "despicable values" (shaving his beard) for his gluttonous ambitions. Through a short dialogue with a fellow Jew, it is clear that Oppenheimer is a clever character, adept with human manipulation and ready with some soothing and sly words for a quick fix in a tricky situation. He thus wins over the Duke by giving him what the Estate could not. From the soft, young flesh of the Württemberg women, to absolute power, Oppenheimer is always ready to provide the Duke all his evil desires. It is interesting to note that the film depicted the Duke as a skuzzy individual from the beginning, and did not show (what could have been) the gradual degenerative effect of Oppenheimer on him. This might have been done to maintain a sense of realism and integrity of the film's art, or .

"How can we ever defeat the Jew? He is so much cleverer than us."

"He is not cleverer, only more cunning."

This exchange between two German citizens, living under Oppenheimer's oppressive rule, reveals a common fear and sentiment shared by most Germans at the time. The Jews were thought to be anything but an unintelligent race, rather it was their cunning and desire to fulfill their "Lord's will" and "rule (the world) in secret," as the hunchbacked rabbi told Oppenheimer, is what truly frightened the Germans. Levi, Oppenheimer's right hand man, at times, even annoys Oppenheimer with his hyper-Jewish mores. His beady eyes, beard, side curls, black dress, and scratchy voice make him a freakish and chilling character, waiting to foil the fight of the Estate's citizens with his Talmudic logic and biting wit. Memorable images include Levi, eyes wide open, violently rubbing his ink-stained hands together while plotting the downfall of those against Oppenheimer, and Levi and Oppenheimer eavesdropping on a conversation behind a wall, surrounded by rats and insects. Beyond the murky physical images hanging over the Jews, Jude Suss brings a compelling psychological aspect into play, being careful to inform German viewers of Jew's parasitical nature, natural propensity towards evil and metropolitan sophistication, the near nihilistic forgoing of values from days gone by.

In most of the scenes filled with German characters, booming symphonies filter through the images filling them with grandeur. Contrasting this is Oppenheimer's introduction, a smart but stale dialogue between two conspirators, without any music at all. Music also plays an important role with the unison between Faber and Dorthea, two young lovers growing up while Oppenheimer is in power. Their love duets evoke nostalgia and even an innocence of long ago, or, life before the Jew. This is a direct mirror of Volkist philosophy, and the absence of pretty music in Jew occupied scenes is a powerful ignition to the subconscious.

Jude Suss climaxes to Faber's torture, Dorthea's rape and drowning, the death of the Duke, arrest of Oppenheimer and his hanging. The last moments of film are enwrapped in a slow snow fall focusing in on Faber's sorrow as a representation of the Jewish consequence. Although Oppenheimer is hanged and the Jews are forced to leave Württemberg, the director manages to inject the nagging question of "what if," into his audience. What if Oppenheimer was never let into Württemberg to begin with? What if the Estate had acted faster and seized control of Oppenheimer's power before it was too late? What if the Germans of 1940, longing for a land of language, culture and time before the imprisoning Judeo-Christian ideology, annihilated the Jewish race and lived the life they dreamed of?
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Jud Suss
newamalekite3 April 2006
For all of the concern about rumors regarding the actors, etc., it has not yet been mentioned that the story of Oppenhiem appeared in a novel written by a Jew. So the Nazis make a movie based upon a Jewish writer and those who have never seen the film are agog! Such nonsense. The film is entertaining and the acting is superior (certainly as measured by comments about how sinister the Jewish character is). What "educated" critics should examine is :1) does the film portray facts? 2) What are the falsehoods in the story? 3) and muse that if the actors are convincing and compelling, is the story invalidated? Time to use sense and logic instead of the typical panoply of complaints about "Nazis" and the like. Some writer's concern that there is "notorious propaganda" in the film (and all related baloney) only focuses on the alleged motivation of the producers. Where is the documentation that Goebbels was going to revoke the military exemption of the star? Even if true, how does anybody know what went on in private conversations. So much "history" is merely somebody's theory about what happened; Oh...things are so OBVIOUS. The star's apparent suicide has been described as his guilt over making the film. Hahahahahah. It didn't seem to bother him for years after making the film...IF such guilt was the reason. How would anyone know anyhow. All nonsense.

Is the same yardstick applied to the movies made by Hollywood, during the 1940s thru today, which constantly makes anything German look evil? No. Bruce Willis films show evil characters with German names and/or German accents. Get a life.
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Bad and Beautiful
mart-4531 August 2005
This film can be viewed from several different angles, and it indeed is. First of all, it's by no means a bad film, meaning - it's very aptly directed, and the narrative runs smoothly. Some of the leading actors are very good, especially Ferdinand Marian, who doesn't stoop to anything banal and draws us a fascinating portrait of a man you can both hate and love. Then there are the shots where German people have had enough of his cunning mastermind, and take justice in their own hands. Of course, when one is immersed in the film, you would do the same. Which means, the film works as it is meant. But then - one is always allowed to ask oneself whether it was impossible for this kind of thing to happen in 1730s Germany. I think it wasn't. I think we can watch this film, and hate the bad guy, without automatically deciding to hate every Jew in the world. After all, there are hundreds of films produced in Hollywood, where the bad guy is Russian or who ever. I do think we as human race are sufficiently grown to leave our emotions in the cinema auditorium and not be influenced by something that we know is not right.
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limette31 October 2005
A couple of years ago, I saw this film in my history class. It's been long, so I couldn't give a detailed summery of what exactly happened, however, the plot wasn't what stayed with me anyway. What registered, more than anything, was that this was a propaganda film intended to convince the audience that Jews were evil. It is not that the villain - whom I remember to be partly intriguing, partly repulsive - just happens to be Jewish. The final scene makes it quite clear that he is the way he is because he is Jewish. It's when the film abandons all subtlety and decides to give its message a final hit with a hammer, to assure it's been properly driven into the heads of the audience.

I find it quite impossible to judge this film under any other than the propaganda aspect. While it may be a decent film a far as technical apect are concerned, it is nothing anyone could watch purely for his or her amusement, at least not if they know about the historical background; and people in Germany are probably even more aware of this than anyone else. I cannot ignore that this film was meant to sow hatred, and nor do I want to. All other questions, whether the acting and directing were good or whether the dialogues were well-written, are of secondary importance to me. Certainly the film was well-made - how else would it have worked so well? - but even this doesn't make it into something watchable or entertaining.
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Well made film - hateful message
Andy-29623 July 2011
One of the most notorious anti Semitic movies ever made, filmed in Germany in 1940, under the close supervision of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. This was based on a real case and a further novel by Jewish author Lion Feuchtwanger - obviously, the Nazis completely distorted the source material so that this film is completely anti-Semitic. The movie was a huge success at its time – millions of Germans watched it and SS boss Heinrich Himmler made viewing the movie mandatory for every member of his organization. Today the film is banned in Germany.

In 18th century Germany, the foolish duke of Wurttenberg decides to make the Jewish businessman Joseph Suss Oppenheimmer his financial adviser. Soon disaster will come to the dukedom, in the form of a higher cost of living (under advice from Suss, the duke sharply rises all sort of taxes). Suss also advices the duke to let the Jews enter Wurttenberg (from where they were banned from residing). Eventually, the members of Wurttenberg council, decides to rise against the duke and his adviser.

Ironically, in some ways the message of the movie looks different today than originally intended. To a modern audience, the Germans in the movie are so naïve, ignorant and narrow minded that they seem off putting, while Suss appears to be, until he turns into a rapist and torturer toward the end, not such a bad guy, just a sharp, quick if a bit ethically loose businessman. Putting tolls in the roads of Wurttenberg doesn't look to be such a bad thing, while the politicians of the council opposing Suss seem uptight, arrogant and pompous. The character of Faber seems an unbearable, prejudiced young hothead, while his wife Dorothea, the Christian girl Suss strives for and that will be one of the causes of his downfall (played by Kristina Soderbaum, wife of director Veit Harlan) is so dumb and foolish, one feels she is not really worth the trouble. Even the portrayal of the rabbi of the community seems almost positive to a modern audience: he tells Suss to be very careful in his political dealings with the Germans, lest this backfire on the Jewish community. In this way, the movie takes for granted the anti Jewish prejudices of the German people of the day that we no longer take for granted. Ferdinand Marian gives an amazing multifaceted performance as the cunning but magnetic Suss, without him the movie would be far less powerful than it is. Finally, I give this movie a high rating because I think is very well made – I certainly find its message hateful.
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Karl Self5 October 2010
"Jud Süß" is overall a well-made, sometimes brilliant, occasionally hammy, movie. It's plausible that it served its intended function, to promote antisemitism, beautifully in its time. The movie came out in 1940, about one year after the beginning of the war, about five years after the Nuremberg race laws, and about two years before the Wannsee Conference. Considering the enormous, fanatical hatred of the Nazis against jews, the movie's antisemitism comes across as surprisingly subtle. Flanked by the occasional antisemitic outburst ("There are no hostels for jews in Stuttgart") the movie builds a convincing psychogram of a perpetrator and leaves all its great performances to its antiheroes, while the good guys come across as pale, square and boring.

The movie is surprising in many aspects and allows perplexing insights into the Nazi mindframe. The faulty emperor (played by Heinrich George) is described as fat, vain and sybaritic (in his fantasy uniform he's the spitting image of Goering) and also as a militarist and a megalomaniac, who has lost contact with the needs of his people (Hitler comes to mind). When Süss is eventually hanged, he comes across not so much as a monster but as the scapegoat that Wilhelm Hauff, the author of the original novella, described him as.
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Aside from its anti-semitic themes it's simply a great done movie.
Boba_Fett113829 December 2009
This movie is a Nazi propaganda one, that presents itself as a movie all based on true events, made under the command of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. People involved with this movie were either forced- or loyal to the Nazi cause, though lots of them denied that of course later after the war, to avoid prosecution, such as director Veit Harlan. Because of its propaganda themes and anti-semitic agenda the movie is still banned in lots of countries.

It's a movie that not so delicately shows what should happen when you give Jews too much freedom and control. They take and then they take some more. All Jews in this movie are money-crazed and evil toward the common people. It's quite laughable really how black and white the movie with it's themes is. The contrasts are huge between the noble and German folks in this movie and the evil manipulating Jews.

But well, there is simply no denying it that as a movie this is a pretty good one. It got well made and the story, despite of its propaganda themes and wrongful intentions, is a quite solid and intriguing one.

It's a movie that is set in 18th century Germany. This means that the movie also gets filled with some splendid looking sets and costumes. The movie probably wasn't a very cheap one to make. The movie its look certainly uplifts the whole movie.

Quite surprising to see Werner Krauss in this movie as well, who was like one of the biggest German movie stars of early cinema during the '20's. He plays the very stereotypical Jewish characters Rabbi Loew and Sekretar Levy. Appearantly he developed a Nazi ideology when Adolf Hitler came to power, which was his reason for appearing in this movie. Being the great and legendary actor that he was, he was pretty much forgiven later on, unlike many other actors and directors who's careers got pretty much ruined after the war had ended. Heinrich George for instance ended up in a Soviet concentration camp after the war and died there, only one year later.

I simply judge this movie as a movie, though in 1940 it would had probably only made me mad.


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Evil Art
CultureVulture4910 April 2011
Watching this film provokes divided reactions. You can admire it for its expensive production values, acting, photography, and editing. Director Veit Harlan's use of crowd scenes are also impressive here as in his other films. 'Jud Sus' is comparable to the handsome Hollywood historical biopics of the time such as Warner Brother's 'The Life of Emile Zola' and others with Paul Muni. The big difference is you will detest 'Jud Suss' for its obvious message (unlike the 'Zola' film) which was to inflame anti-semitism and quash sympathy for Jews at a time when Germany was preparing to destroy them. The film's production history and aftermath is worth exploring. After the war Ferdinand Marian who played the title character supposedly committed suicide due to guilt over his role and Werner Krauss who portrayed several stereotypical Jews was blacklisted. Harlan was acquitted twice for war crimes and went on to make more films. History is still divided about Harlan's role in creating the film. Was he forced to make it or was he a willing co-conspirator who made it too good? There's a new documentary about Harlan that might provide answers: 'Veit Harlan: In the Shadow of Jud Suss' now on DVD>
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No different than , Birth of a Nation
cynthiahost14 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Outside of the propaganda, this was an entertaining movie.Goebels made a mistake on the screen play that Hitler and him would never know. This film not only portrayed the Jewish as being the bad guys but also the Christians, You could say that this was both anti Christian and anti Semitic. Rabbi Lowe criticizes Jude for his materialism and fights to stop Jude from taking the synagogues money for judges purpose. This makes him a good character. Instead of long prison sentence for rape and crookedness, they execute this Jude which goes against the Christan principle , thou shalt not kill. Goebels accidentally overlooked this. The duke is also portrayed a crook. This makes the characters more subjective. Bad Christan bad Jewish. What this film from owning it and posse sing it influenced me to do. To avoid over eating cause it can lead to a heart attack. To be sympathetic of people being persecuted. To demote prejudice through education and action as oppose to scissors. To be aware that this picture was a reflection of the past. Not to forget about Germany legacy to help prevent it from repeating in another way
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Diabolical History
JWX16 March 2001
All past comments about this notorious film have been proved correct: it IS rancid, fetid, despicable. The reasons why this film was made are equally above-board: Nazi Germany's number one goal was to descredit Jews the world over by propanganda so vile as to make the average person denounce Jews as vermin to be exterminated. It is said that when _Jud Suess_ was shown, crowds of people would set themselves wildly on Jews in the streets. That Veit Harlan, who as an actor and artist always showed a certain elegance, should have anything to do with this film (and as the director he had quite a lot to do with it), is amazing. One cannot forget that being assigned films had more to do with commands than with choice; nevertheless, he should have been leery of the project that was said to vie with _Der Ewige Jude_ as the start of the campaign of racial genocide.

A final tip when viewing _Jud Suess_: Pay close attention to Ferdinand Marian's diabolical portrayal of Suess Oppenheimer. In mannerisms, the easy refinity, the worldliness, the dropping of a bon mot, the wily insouciance of the "Jew" of yesteryears' imagination; it is all caught on celluloid Agfa film. Ferdinand Marian later committed suicide, said to be because of his remorse about his "greatest" acting role.
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Disturbing mix of entertaining camp and deadly propaganda
kev-2220 January 1999
There's a histrionic death scene in "Jude Suess" in which the corrupt Duke, finally realizing his mistake in trusting his Jewish treasurer, makes grand theatrical gestures before collapsing to the ground. It's a moment as goofy as anything in Sergei Eisenstein's "Ivan the Terrible," and really very unintentionally funny. Evil sneers and clenched fists abound in this ridiculous historical melodrama--allegedly based on "fact" if you believe Josef Goebbels, he of the big lie--and as such it's something of a bizarre guilty pleasure. This is all very disturbing of course because this is a film that the German public in 1940 took with dead earnest seriousness. Along with the abhorrent propaganda "documentary" "The Eternal Jew" of the same vintage, this is the kind of film that manipulates and fabricates historical fact in the service of genocidal hatred. If you can put the film in proper historical perspective, understanding its socio-political implications, it is fascinating and perversely entertaining. With "Birth of a Nation" and a few others, it's certainly a notable addition to the cinema of hate. Its cracked dialogue includes such dubious gems as: "No, Jews aren't more clever--just more cunning."
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The Most Vile Interpretation
bkoganbing13 February 2011
The life and unhappy end of said life for Joseph Oppenheimer, the famous Jew Suss has been interpreted in many ways over the years in a variety of medium. The most vile interpretation was that done in this 1940 film, personally produced and supervised by Joseph Goebbels.

The real Oppenheimer was out of Vienna where he had done considerable business with the Catholic Hapsburgs and moved to the Wurttemberg area where he came to the attention of the heir to Duchy of Wurttemberg who after he became Duke made Oppenheimer his first minister.

Duke Karl Alexander played by Heinrich George is an ambitious fellow who would like to create a miniature Versailles over in Stuttgart an ambition that a number of German heads of state wanted to emulate including Frederick the Great over in Prussia. Ferdinand Marian as Oppenheimer is a worldly high living fellow himself who provides a number of financial schemes that increase the Duke's treasury. Of course while doing it he arouses the ire of the local Lutheran gentry. After Duke Karl Alexander dies, the burghers of Stuttgart do to Oppenheimer precisely what you see in Jew Suss.

Without the religious component the closest thing approximating this story was that of Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's minister of finance over in France. He lived high on the hog, too high in the opinion of his king. Fouquet was however first given exile and then had the sentence commuted to life in prison.

What Oppenheimer's story played into was a latent anti-Semitism already instilled in the population by Martin Luther. During the course of the movie the burghers of Stuttgart warn the Duke of Luther's warnings about how vile those Jews are, but the Duke fails to heed. The Catholic Hapsburg connection isn't brought in as the Austrians were now part of the Reich.

The real Oppenheimer was accused of being an agent for those Hapsburgs in real life. But here he's the agent of a deep and nebulous Jewish conspiracy to take over Wurttemberg. Today Wurttemberg, tomorrow the world. Like Jews always do, he's got designs on Aryan women and in his sites here is Krista Soderburg, a Swedish actress married to the director of Jew Suss, Veit Harlan who always played the prototype of Aryan women in German films. Her being debauched and later suicide sparks all the latent hatred against Oppenheimer that gets unleashed with the demise of Duke Karl Alexander. Her Aryan sweetheart played by Malte Jager leads the mob against Oppenheimer.

Again in real life Oppenheimer was a worldly sort who never had any trouble getting women to give up the goods. A whole lot like Fouquet over in France, but again we have the religious component here.

Mind you this same story had been filmed six years earlier over in Great Britain with the exiled Conrad Veidt playing Oppenheimer. In that version, Oppenheimer is endowed with saintly qualities and is a martyr, saintly qualities the real Oppenheimer probably would have scorned. It's fascinating the different spin you can give, especially if you're in the propaganda game. Joe Goebbels, the little club footed maniac who ran German cinema as part of the Propaganda Ministry, had a casting couch that dwarfed any in Hollywood and anything that Oppenheimer in real life could ever dream of.

I won't put a rating on Jew Suss, this is such a vile story meant to inflame anti-Semitism and succeeding horribly. This was required viewing for people entering the S.S. those who became guards at the concentration camps. It was vile when it occurred in real life and viler yet when told by the Nazis in this film.
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Brilliantly made but evil.
MartinHafer26 June 2011
"Jew Suess" (or "Jud Süß" in German) is an extremely anti-semitic film that was sponsored by Josef Goebbels and the Nazis. The purpose was to solidify hatred against the Jews--not only in Germany but throughout occupied Europe. How much this contributed to the Europeans often embracing the deportation and execution of the Jews is debatable, but it surely had SOME effect.

The film purports to be a true story about a German state in the 18th century where Jews insinuated themselves into the government and then began taking advantage of the good Christian people. The Jewish atrocities included murder, rape and excessive taxation--and ultimately the people rose up against their idiot Duke due to his complicity in these injustices.

As far as the technical aspects of the film goes, you can see that UFA studios had great actors, sets and directors. The film looks great--like a Hollywood product. So, I cannot just give the film a score of 1 due to its evil and sinister plot. Plus, while a complete lie, the plot did work--it does arouse hatred and fear of the Jews--meaning it was great propaganda. Evil, but great in its own sick way The film is well worth seeing unless you actually believe the insane notions of an international Jewish conspiracy--and from a historical aspect, it's a sad but fascinating look into the Nazi psyche.

By the way, I also recently saw a fascinating documentary entitled "Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suess" and it would make a great companion piece to watching "Jew Suess". It's about the director Veit Harlan and how his family to this day reacts the this viciously anti-semitic film. Some, are naturally very apologetic and their lives have been altered by this genetic connection while others are unapologetic and think that everyone should just forget and accept that Harlan was supposedly forced to make this film. Fascinating viewing, that's for sure.
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Halloween flick
kemerson30 October 2004
This baroque melodrama is the perfect Halloween flick. To watch Jud Suss is to enter an alternative universe in which Hitler had invaded Russia 6 weeks earlier, won the war, and we were all watching a different type of movie. The level of political incorrectness is horrifying. The film was the top grossing film in Germany in 1940 during a period when Germany actually had a popular film industry. It is one of about 30 films (Vorbehaltsfilme) you could be arrested in Germany for possessing. (So far it has not shown up on popular film file sharing networks). Academics may view these Vorbehaltsfilmes in private viewing sessions and film festivals. Others are subjected to home invasions by the police. The final word regarding the film would have to be the chapter Eric Rentschler devotes to it in his masterpiece, The Ministry of Illusion. There is no official list of proscribed titles (Vorbehaltsfilme)because as Rentschler puts it, "Such a list would only demonstrate that the German government considers the populace of its democracy in crucial ways politically immature" (p. 221)Many of the movies Rentschler devotes chapters to are hard to find.
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Not a bad choice for a rainy afternoon!
tophoca11 September 2004
OK folks, "The Jolson Story" it certainly ain't but as propaganda films go, this one is not that bad. 60 years down the road, there can be no justification for putting this film on the banned list anymore. The film had a message to give to the German people of 1940 and was successful in that respect, but surely we have all moved on now. The final scene in "Jud Suss" should have todays audiences in fits of laughter. I am surprised that Mel Brooks hasn't done a remake of Jud Suss. Find a copy if you can and that isn't too difficult despite attempts to prevent the film being issued,and sit down with a nice box of chocolates a stiff gin and tonic and enjoy. Jud Suss certainly beats walking in the rain after all!
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revealing in more ways than just one
karlericsson23 January 2008
Constantly having to hear that he is a dirty Jew, makes up for almost all evil the central character of this film displays. The attacks are nauseating and primitive and the stupidity behind them is enough to make one sympathize with the Jew. The attacks are most revealing and could only work as propaganda on a population of morons. Similar propaganda, although not involving Jews, is made today against communists and all other groups not joining the holy American world of business and it is here that this film becomes much more interesting and revealing. If the unfortunate attacks on Jews in this film would have been let out and the rest was left, then we would have a most intelligent film attacking business and everything that goes with it. The main character teaches the stupid duke how he can turn power into money and money into power. He teaches what capitalism is at the core, namely this ability to freeze the efforts of the people in currency which can be transformed back to efforts, back and forth at will. Without the possibilities of these transformations, there could be no power. The film also reveals how people who are used to business are most helpful lackeys to power, since there deeply rooted habit of legalized theft (= business) makes them reliable tools for any immoral dealings that could be wished for on the side of power. I give this film at least 6 stars (if not more), because I find it harmless to non-morons that will never buy the racism, which, incidentally, even contradicts itself in that there is a black servant in a smaller role, who also helps the people against the Jew (a smart move by the director, who thereby reveals that maybe he is not a true racist). This film cannot make somebody a racist, who is not a moron to begin with.
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Nazi propaganda as historical allegory
melvelvit-121 April 2015
"In this film I show primordial Judaism, as it was then and as it has remained until today, substantially unchanged. In contrast to international Judiasm, there is only the Jew Süss, the elegant court financial adviser, the treacherous schemer; in short: the disguised Jew." -Veit Harlan, DER FILM, Berlin, January 20, 1940

In 1737, German-Jewish financier Josef Süss Oppenheimer stood trial for "fraud, embezzlement, treason, lecherous relations with the court ladies, and accepting bribes" and Veit Harlan's anti-Semetic propaganda piece is the Nazi "prosecution" to Lothar Mendes' 1934 British "defense" film of the same name. In the early eighteenth century, no Jews were allowed to enter Stuttgart and the crafty Jew Süss vows to get in and open the way for the rest of his people. Indebted to the money-lender, the weak-willed, blustery lech Duke Karl Alexander allows him in and makes Süss his financial adviser against the advice of the governing Counsel. Soon, the city begins to buckle under the heavy taxation and rampant inflation and after he begins pimping for his sovereign, Süss persuades the Duke to lift the ban on Jews. Next, Süss urges him to disband the Council and proclaim himself absolute monarch but after Süss rapes a Councilman's daughter and she commits suicide, the people rise up and revolt, causing the death of the Duke. Despite his protests that he was just a poor Jew following orders, Süss is tried, convicted, and executed, strung up in a bird cage high above the village square where in real life his corpse hung for six years as a constant reminder. "Jews aren't wise, only clever." The Jews are cast out of Stuttgart again and the film's closing speech warns future generations to do the same ...for the sake of the children.

Correlations between both Rasputin and the court of Versailles are evoked and the Lord is invoked just as often to condemn Jewry in no uncertain terms. One Councilman reads from "Luther" (a Lutheran bible?) which says that outside of the Devil, man has no worse enemy than the Jew and God wants them "scattered like ashes across the earth" (which gave me a bad ISIS vibe) but despite the reprehensible message, there's no denying director Harlan had a sure hand when it came to staging public unrest and the pomp of court intrigue. Lead actor Ferdinand Marian was reminiscent of Hollywood's Joseph Shildkraut in MGM's MARIE ANTOINETTE and he also knew his craft.

Commissioned by the Third Reich's Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, JUD Süß is almost as melodramatic and just as lavish as its British counterpart with the same attention to detail and, long unseen, had acquired a mythically horrific reputation over time. Objectionable to modern audiences everywhere except the Middle East, the film was a big hit in Nazi Germany when first released. Re-examined of late, Veit Harlan's "key historical document...remains a deeply unsettling cinematic experience" with a legit, restored DVD release.

After the war, director Harlan stood trial for "crimes against humanity" and insisted that not only was he ordered to make the film, he actually managed to tone it down considerably. He was given a light sentence and his artistic reputation has been somewhat rehabilitated in recent years. The film's Jew Süss, Ferdinand Marian, was similarly accused and committed suicide in 1946. Although I'm no scholar on the subject, like everything else, the truth about Jew Süss most likely lies somewhere between the British canonization and the Nazi demonization and the contrast between the two films is both fascinating and enlightening. Ironically, Harlan's ANDERS ALS DU UND ICH ("Different From You And Me" 1957) was another long unseen shocker that was alleged to have done for gays what JUD Süß did for Jews but seeing both the cut and uncut versions now, its clear Harlan's film was much more "sensitive" (for the time, anyway) than the homophobic German censor's cut.
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I'd give it 11 stars if i could
depaulapimenta5 January 2020
Brilliant piece of truth delivered thru the art of cinema, joo know what I mean?
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tedg27 May 2005
Everyone should view a few of the Nazi propaganda films before they die. Nazis were not the ones who committed the atrocities, rather it was the mass of Germans. Whether they were manipulated or what we see as manipulative devices (like this film) are reflections is a matter for learned speculation. But there is no denying that the Nazi business was the first instance of a societal movement, even a perversion, being driven by cinema.

Germans from the 30s until the present are deeply cinematic in their imaginations (though oddly excepting Herzog not particularly profound). The propagandists intuited this, and all the narrative, the pageantry and the architecture were inherently cinematic and often reinforced by the thriving film industry.

This is perhaps not the best example because the storytelling is so effective and pure. Who would not be turned against someone who pollutes the justice of the system for personal riches and rapes innocents (just as in "Birth of a Nation"). That clarity obscures the larger mechanics of manipulation in film, that ALL film is powerful and very, very few films have lofty motives. And should we trust any unexamined motive?

So the reason we should watch this stuff, is not so much to understand the German disaster, but to come to a slightly better handle on how the political narrative today is primarily cinematic and as manipulatable as this. So long as the narrative avoids a few lethal issues like genocide, it does its subtle, secret work.

I rewatched this also because I owed it to myself. I recently saw the Pacino "Merchant." I do not think the play anti-Semitic and wrote so. But anti-Semitism is still infecting the land elsewhere, using the same old unkillable drivers. This does remind, though it lacks the "eating of Gentile babies" bit.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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kosmasp28 December 2010
The fact that the movie starts off as a historical "acurate" piece makes it all the more dangerous. The viewer gets sucked into the movie believing what he/she's seeing is real. Calling the main bad character "The Jew" most of the time cannot even be considered subtle nowadays. The fact, that the movie took liberties and did tell the story the way it suited best for the Nazi regime, was something people were not aware back in the day.

Does that mean, that the filmmakers have no responsibility for what they did? "Harlan - In the shadow of ..." tries to shed some light on that, more on that subject on the movies page for it here on IMDb. Back to this movie, that is more than dangerous, especially in its portrayal of "the Jew". He does not look like the devil, he looks human, but acts like the devil. And not because he forced to do so, but because it is in his nature (at least that's what the movie is trying to tell us).

The dialog has been carefully crafted to move along with the story and make the viewer angrier with every passing minute. While sometimes "the Jew" sounds normal and even caring, his actions speak to the contrary. He is in disguise and he might bedazzle you too. Another message from the movie, that is more than dangerous.

There are so many layers to this, that are very clever thought of (by Goebbels I can only assume), that you almost find yourself in awe, of the mastermind behind it. And the emphasis is "almost", because the fact that this was one of the main propaganda movies that worked with the a lot of people in Germany makes you sick to your stomach. So while the movie itself might not have deserved a "1" rating, it is the whole package that I am rating here.

A faux documentary with the same title has been released (2010) in Germany, that unfortunately does not really live up to the task. More on that on its own page. I am appalled on what I saw here and if you listen carefully, you will be too. A document on how harsh and mean people can be, and how propaganda can work
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frightening movie that would still work today
FliXFantatier10 May 2005
I am pretty sure that if this film where shown to an unsuspecting audience today, that has no background knowledge of the whole 3rd Reich, and is not trained in seeing manipulation, this movie would still provide the same service nowadays as it did in Nazi Germany. I found it frightening to see how well it actually was made to manipulate exactly the way it is intended to. Because of that I think its quite right for this movie to not be available to anybody. In my opinion it is still a dangerous item of propaganda history, that can easily create antisemitism. I don't really see any good reason why anybody would want to watch this movie nowadays, given the character acting isn't bad. but that is not a good thing in this movie, the portrait of the jews is prone to inflame racial hatred, and by todays standards the movie is in no way entertaining or helpful. If you want to learn about the 3rd Reich watch a couple of the million+ documentaries on the topic. But not an old anti jew propaganda film.
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Nazi propaganda in pretty package
minamurray18 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Made directly for the purposes of propaganda minister Joseph Göbbels, Juden Suss is inspired by the life of Joseph Suss Oppenheimer (1698-1738), hated Jewish banker and financial planner for Duke Karl Alexander of Wurttemberg. However, because this is Nazi propaganda, greedy Oppenheimer is now also rapist, torturer, murderer and ludicrous caricature. Some of it's extremely scuzzy morality is still, sad to say, shared by many, including lot of reviewers of this movie (obese people are inhuman, disgusting and evil), but it's only reason to exist is definitely passé (namely attempt to persuade gentiles that all Jews should be tortured to death). The Jewish extras really were Jewish, slave labor forced to perform in the film, and one can only guess how they were treated. Beautiful costumes and sets, though, and those jewels which show greediness of jew and Duke are lovely.
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Justification of the final solution
Horst_In_Translation4 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
If you exclude documentary films like "Triumph of the Will", this film here may be the most despicable and anti-Semitic propaganda movie that was made during the Nazi regime. It is black-and-white, runs for slightly over 90 minutes and written and directed by Veit Harlan. After World War II, the existence of this film turned out a stain of shame on the bodies of work of everybody who was associated with this project, mostly lead actor Ferdinand Marian, but also Heinrich George for example, father of notable German actor Götz George, and also a legend in his own right. His character here is the personification of the evil Jew. He is corrupt, egoistic and not scared of whatever evil it takes for him to become wealthier and more important in terms of politics. The irony of that being compared to actual Nazi politicians. Everybody who is close to Jud Süß Oppenheimer faces destruction in the end, be it his friends or foes. He is basically a death bringer. But not only is he a fraudulent schemer, he is also a physical menace who is not scared of raping girls when they decide to refuse his approach. He takes what he wants and acts as if he is above the law. The goal of Harlan and the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda here was to make the Jew look as bad as possibly. pay attention to how the film goes on Oppenheimer is rarely called by his name anymore, but called "the Jew". Generalization was a big objective here, so that the German people would perceive the protagonist's action as symbolic for the entire Jewery. Another crucial aspect here is how it is depicted that Jud Süß only cares about his religion really if he can use it to his advantage.

It is fairly difficult to evaluate this movie. One the one hand, there are the outrageously offensive and loathsome contents, but on the other hand, it is also a priceless historic document of how film tried to change people's minds. Then again, looking merely at the story and trying to ignore all the factors concerning religion, I would not say that this is a particularly well-made piece of movie-making. I guess it is worth a watch for people with a big interest in film as well as history of the 20th century, but everybody else does not need to watch it really.
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