In the last twelve months there have been several films tackling the very complex issue of how German people living during the Nazi era responded to the horrors of the Holocaust. Now comes Good, an adaptation of a 1981 play by the British playwright Cecil Philip Taylor. Directed by Austrian director Vicente Amorim, Good is a portrait of John Halder, a man who despite seeing himself as a good person still allows himself to become drawn into the upper echelons of the Nazi party. While The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas presented the innocent perspective of a child and Valkyrie presented a very Hollywood and uncomplicated depiction of men opposed to Hitler, Good is more interesting. Halder opposes Hitler but is so lacking in courage to act that he allows himself to be swept along by the tide and resorts to self-denial. He prefers to keep his head down rather than speak out but finds himself in a very difficult situation when the Nazis react favourably to a novel he wrote about euthanasia. Also unlike Hanna Schmitz in The Reader, Halder can’t elicit sympathy through being uneducated or make the excuse of supposedly being put in a position of just following orders. He is a literary professor and author and through the suffering of his Jewish friend Maurice, he knows exactly what sorts of injustices are occurring.
Audiences rarely see American films about the German perspective of World War II and Nazism. There is Lewis Milestone’s 1930 antiwar classic All Quiet on the Western Front but it is set during World War I. Sam Peckinpah’s brutal Cross of Iron (1977) shovels scorn upon the treatment of German soldiers by their careerist seniors and psychotic Nazi commanders, but it is a criminally underappreciated film that few people have seen. Valkyrie is hence an intriguing film for Hollywood to make because it is told from a German perspective and, like Cross of Iron, it sharply distinguishes the differences between members of the Nazi regime and the regular German army.