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There is none of the anti-Semitic films produced in the early nineteenth century that became as popular as the film Jud Suss by Veit Harlan. Anti-Semitism was a common phenomenon across Europe and particularly in Germany during this film’s production; but this film had anti-Semitism that has never been in any other piece of art before.
The people who can see properly find film language as an effective media of communication and Veit uses this tool appropriately in the film.
Film language makes use of images to communicate ideas between the filmmaker and the viewers where Jud Suss is good at that. The maker of the film produced a film that was labeled as an anti-Semitic propaganda using film language
Effective use of film language
Throughout this film, anti-Semitism is presented in various forms and all this is meant to build the Nazis agenda. In this film, the Jewish culture, religion and way of life come in focus in the attempt to emphasis Nazi’s agenda (Dahms & Hazelrigg, 2010).
In order to drive the Nazi agenda into the minds of the people the maker of this film begins with the basic or the most common aspect of Nazi stereotype. The physical and the personal appearance of the Jews are compared to that of the Germans and the filmmaker perfectly convinces the viewers that the Jews are inferior to the Germans.
The maker of the film also convinces the audience that the Jews are physically unattractive. To achieve his claims the filmmaker in particular uses characters with hooked noses, which are physically unattractive to describe or portray the appearances of the Jews.
In addition, to achieve this objective the filmmaker uses male characters who are unattractive and who appeared as aliens to play the roles of Jewish men. The Jewish men also had unshaven heads and wore unappealing clothing unlike their German counterparts and of course Marian who represented a reformed Jew.
To add onto the physical appearance of the Jews, the filmmaker paints the Jews as people with questionable behaviors and morals. In the film, the Jews are described as cunning, untrustworthy, and materialistic people. Oppenheimer is one character in this film that bears all this accusations from how he conducts his jewels and money lending business.
The Jews claim to be religious and holy people yet they are immoral. This is also another anti-Semitic message that the creator of the film, the Jud Suss, tried to bring to the attention of his viewer. In the film, the Jews are filmed worshiping in synagogues in the scene showing them entering Wurttemberg (Tegel, 2007).
This scene portrays the Jews as religious people and people who love their religion as well as put it before everything else but the scenes that follows contradicts all this. In the film, Oppenheimer is tried after being captured for being involved in committing various crimes such as treason and fraud.
His troubles with the law do not end there and later is executed for sexual with a German woman, which was unacceptable. From this act, all the Jews who lived in Wurttemberg are given a three days notice to vacate the area.
Any viewer who watched this film and especially a German would be quick to notice that the film was full of Nazi stereotypes in how it presented the Jews and their culture. The filmmaker is able to achieve this by the right selection of plot and actors.
At the beginning of the film, the Jews are portrayed as rootless people. The term wonderer is actually the best word that fully describes the Jews as presented in this film. On the other hand, their counterparts (Germans) live in Germany in their land and the land of their ancestors and they love their country.
This Nazis stereotype against the Jew is evident in the early scenes of this film where Oppenheimer (Nazis) is involved in a conversation with an innocent German girl with the aim of inducing the Nazi ideology in her young minds.
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This scene shapes the direction taken by the film for the rest of the film and therefore creates an impression in the viewer’s minds that in Germany the Jews are of no value.
The film therefore portrays the Jews as aliens and unwanted people among the Germans. Being away from their country of origin and living in German is an unfortunate thing for the Jews.
This is clearly demonstrated in this film as the root cause of all the problems that the Jews were going through. The Jews are accused of bringing more problems to the Germans, where they are accused of all the problems that were there in Germany and this is evident from the film (Ascheid, 2003).
Effective sound use
Veit Harlan’s film Jud Suss is a good example of an agenda or ideology based film. The film is not complete if filmmaker is not effective in convincing the audience of a particular agenda. The maker of this film particularly attempts to convince the audience about the Nazi anti-Semitic message and agenda.
As noted by lee (2000) the filmmaker artful and subtly presented the Nazi anti-Semitic agenda in the film. In communicating the films message, the viewer’s point of view is of great concern especially to the filmmaker.
In this film, Veit is able to convince the viewer of the anti-Semitic agenda without himself being accused as anti-Semitic. As noted by Levy (2005) Veit brings out anti-Semitic message in his film through story strategy without being seen to take any stand.
The use of sound in a film plays an important role in a film especially in capturing of the viewers attention. The maker of this film seems to be aware of this fact and therefore makes good use of sound throughout the film.
Sound in the film is purposely applied to communicate the films maker’s agenda to the audience as well as being a tool for entertainment. In most of the scenes in the film sound that are typical with the Jewish religion, chants and music are common.
The filmmaker uses these sounds to portray the Jews as backward and highly conservative people. The filmmaker also uses this sound to portray the Jews as highly religious people.
The film Jud Suss is one of the films produced in the 1940 that achieves its goals in driving the Nazi agenda and anti-Semitic message across the minds of its viewers. In this film, there are ways that Veit promotes the Nazis anti-Semitic agenda.
To achieve his objective the filmmaker makes effective use of film language and sound. The filmmaker therefore uses characters, scenes and costumes that support anti-Semitic ideology. Finally, the filmmaker uses songs and chants to emphasis on his anti-Semitic message
Ascheid, A. (2003). Hitler’s heroines: Stardom and womanhood in Nazi cinema. Philadelphia. Temple University Press.
Dahms, H., & Hazelrigg, L. (2010). Theorizing the dynamics of social process. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited.
Lee, S. (2000). European dictatorships, 1918-1945. London: Routledge.
Levy, R. (2005). Anti-Semitism: A historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution. Santa Barbra: ABC-CLIO.
Tegel, S. (2007). Nazis and the cinema. London: Hambledon Continuum/Continuum books.