Der Rat der Götter (Council of the Gods) is a film set in East Germany during World War II and is based on the testimonies from the Nuremberg Trials. The film attempts to reveal the secret plotting of war with under-the-table deals between American capitalist and German oil companies that play an opportunists role in this depiction of the Second World War filled with East German propaganda. The issue that arises with the bias nature of this movie is that East Germans are painted as innocently mislead people who when enlightened violently rise against the elitists responsible for the explosion of a plant where their husbands and family members worked tirelessly to the benefit of capitalistic gain not for themselves but for their employers.
The film begins with a man, later identified as Mr. Scholz, the expert scientist who unwittingly discovered the gas used to kill millions of “anti-socialist” in concentration camp, tangled in a chaotic mass of people yelling out protests against war criminals. Sayings like, “A vote for Hitler is a vote for war!” were scrawled on the protester’s signs. This scene was actually the film’s conclusion, and then the film flashed back to the beginning of the story unveiling the moments that led up to the uproar in the first scene. The film fades to a family gathering with ordinary people eating and enjoying the company of their loved ones. The essence of this scene reveals the notion of indifference among people, which highlights the disconnect between a people and “their” government. When one woman is asked her opinion on the rising star on the political scene, that is Hitler, the socialite only remarks on his questionable fashion sense and his “silly mustache.”
The director of the film highlights the urgency of the war and how the war affected the lives of ordinary people compared to the elite; he shows this urgency speeding up the scenes so that the movement appears frantic. These scenes of men exchanging business suits for guns and military gear, people wildly gathering all their goods to escape the ravages of war and women desperately clinging their babies in their arms, are inserted between scenes of seemingly normal and calm interactions between the people who are operating behind the scenes of the war. Again this manipulation of film emphasizes the disconnect of those in power and the masses.
by Monique Goudeau