Delivering the news in the late 1940s that Universal Pictures would not release Stuart Schulberg's documentary about the 1945–1946 Nuremberg trials of 22 senior Nazi officers, the company's p.r. flack explained to the film's producers that "the subject matter and the way it is treated is altogether too gruesome to stomach." But now that we are up to our necks in Holocaust iconography, are we unshockable? Does the release of a remastered Nuremberg, 60 years after the trial, add to the uncomfortable sense that we all may be perpetuating genocide porn? Certainly it adds to our growing desensitization, though it's clear that was not the intention of Schulberg's daughter, Sandra, and Josh Waletzky, who supervised a painstaking restoration for the film's first theatrical release in North American theaters. With sober narration by Liev Schreiber, Nuremberg is clearly a labor of love and a posthumous restitution to the Schulberg brothers (Stuart's famous sibling, Budd, was involved in the filmmaking as well). The new film's most notable achievement is a refreshed soundtrack that allows us to actually hear the defendants' translated testimony, a tawdry ragbag of defiance, denial, rationalization, Hitler blame, and mutual betrayal. Also newly audible are American prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson's stirring addresses: "Let Nuremberg stand as a warning to all who plan and wage aggressive war," he said. If there's a takeaway for audiences today, it's a sad one of lessons ignored or flouted after half a century of global mass murder.
The cameras roll on Nazi defendants.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., Feb. 25â€“Thurs., March 3. Not rated. 78 minutes.