Jud Süß (Jew Süss) is a 1940 German historical film produced by Terra Film at the behest of Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, directed by Veit Harlan and based on the 1925 novel of the same name by Lion Feuchtwanger. It is one of the most (in-)famous antisemitic propaganda films ever made, and starred Ferdinand Marian, Kristina Söderbaum (Veit Harlan's wife), Werner Krauss and Heinrich George.
In the 18th century, Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg begins his reign promising to rule with loyalty and honesty, but his cunning Jewish treasurer Josef Süss Oppenheimer corrupts him and enriches himself on the back of the citizens, causing them to complain and pushing Württemberg to the brink of civil war.
Due to the film's nature, Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment should apply.
Jew Süss provides examples of:
- Adaptation Deviation: The novel's writer, Lion Feuchtwanger (who was Jewish himself), intended his portrayal of Süss as a study of the tragedy caused by the human weaknesses of greed, pride and ambition. This film turned that Tragic Hero story into a purely antisemitic slur, by considering said human traits as defining and instinctive for Jews.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the original novel, Oppenheimer was a Tragic Hero, but here he is portrayed as a villain for propaganda purposes.
- Angry Mob: At the end of the film, the enraged citizens of Württemberg form a mob on par up with any Universal Horror film.
- Artistic License Religion: Virtually nothing this film portrays about Judaism bears any resemblance to the real thing. Most notably, Rabbis do not practice astrology or mysticism.
- Dark Is Evil: Süss is portrayed as evil, and dresses in black before he shaves his beard, cuts his payots and dons gentile noble clothes.
- Darker and Edgier: Even without the Nazi propaganda aspect, this film is much darker and more violent than the original novel or the 1934 film version.
- Defiled Forever: How the film perceives Dorothea after being raped by Oppenheimer.
- Driven to Suicide: Dorothea drowns herself in a lake after being brutally raped by Oppenheimer in exchange for saving her lover. The actress Kristina Söderbaum, became known for playing rape victims who commit suicide by drowning in many films directed by her husband. The public eventually gave her the monicker Reichswasserleiche, roughly translated as "Lead Drowned Corpse of the Reich".
- Dull Surprise: Dorothea pouts when Oppenheimer throws her on the bed and then looks mildly annoyed as he proceeds to rape her.
- Gratuitous Rape: The scene where Oppenheimer rapes Dorothea is surprisingly violent and graphic for a mainstream film made in 1940.
- Greedy Jew: In spades, and played straight. In short, the film portrays Jewish people, and Süss in particular, as being materialistic, corrupting, immoral, cunning and overall untrustworthy.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: Josef Süss Oppenheimer, by way of all the negative stereotypes associated with Greedy Jew.
- In Name Only: The film only uses the basic premise of the novel; the actual plot plays out more like a 18th century and more anti-Semitic German version of The Merchant of Venice.
- Older and Wiser: Rabbi Loew, who advises Süss not to seek direct positions of power over the gentiles, telling him that if he really wants power over them, he should stick to controlling money.
- Period Piece: The film is set in the 18th century and boasts costumes and settings accordingly. This was actually one of the film's main selling points to the German public as opposed to the comparatively unsuccessful Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) — people would easily go to the theaters to watch an engaging period drama, but less so for a crass and unsettling (pseudo-)documentary, which the latter is.
- Propaganda Machine: The film itself is one of the most well known examples of state-funded antisemitic propaganda.
- Rape as Drama: An especially devious and diabolical example.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: How the townsfolk justify Oppenheimers lynching.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The townsfolk finally snap once Dorothea's body is found in the lake and lash out at Oppenheimer and the rest of the Jews who settled in the city.