Berlin, 1923. Following the suicide of his brother, American circus acrobat Abel Rosenberg attempts to survive while facing unemployment, depression, alcoholism and the social decay of Germany during the Weimar Republic.
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Max von Sydow
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It's early November, 1923. Jewish-American brothers Abel and Max Rosenberg, and Max's ex-wife Manuela Rosenberg had a trapeze act in a circus touring through Europe up until a month ago when a wrist injury to Max sidelined the act. The three remained in Berlin, Germany generally depressed with rampant inflation leading to Abel taking up the bottle to cope. The Jewish are also being blamed for many of society's problems, but Abel fears no reprisal against himself if he does nothing wrong. Abel and Manuela, the latter who ended up living in a rooming house on her own while working in a cabaret, are reunited when Abel has to inform her that Max committed suicide by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Feeling at a loss both professionally with the act no more and emotionally both due to Max's death, Abel and Manuela turn to each other for comfort and support as the only person the other truly has. Abel's life becomes even more complicated when Police Inspector Bauer, who handled ...Written by
Well done allegory for events leading to the rise of Hitler.
The title, The Serpent's Egg, had me wondering for a moment until I realized that it did not refer to the the Doctor and his bizarre experiments nor to Abel and his misery, but to the encapsulated Germany of the 1920s and the environment that led to Hitler's ascent in the 1930s. That is, Germany being the 'egg', Hitler and the Nazis as the 'Serpent', and the environment as the embryo of the egg.
In many ways, this is a cynical film, in that it attempts to show that degradation, fear and loss of life and livelihood is sometimes stronger than humanity and even love. Isn't this true about Germany in the 1920s, and other nations at other times as well? We only have to look at ourselves after the attacks of 9/11 to see a time when fear overcame reason. Fear allowed us to meekly accept the chipping away of our own civil rights and privacy, and also government sponsored torture.
It also gives us a glimpse at one of Hitler's truisms, which is that if he could have a person at age 7, then that person would be a Nazi for life. The experimenting Doctor re-states this in his observations that the sons and daughters of the defeated German populace will be the ones who create the new German society, of which he already is a part with his inhumane human experiments.
Of course, all this is done with hindsight, so how can it be wrong? It can't, but then it's still a good review of a period in Germany that many Americans know nothing about, and should learn if they want the answers to the question of how Naziism came to be. It wasn't just some sort of aberration never seen in history before nor repeated.
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