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Trivia / Jew Süss (1940)

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  • Acting for Two: Werner Krauss plays both Rabbi Loew and Levy (the secretary of Süss).
  • Banned in China: Distribution, sale and screening of the film are forbidden in Germany and Austria unless permitted by the F.W. Murnau Foundation (a German government foundation that owns the rights) and accompanied by an introduction explaining the historical context and the intended impact. Sale of the DVD is also prohibited in France and Italy.
  • Creator Killer: Quite literally in several cases.
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    • Several members of the cast and crew ended up as defendants for crimes against humanity by the Allies after the war. Though most of them were acquitted, they were forbidden to work in the film industry for several years.
    • Veit Harlan and his wife Kristina Söderbaum were banned from making films for a period of 10 years by the Allies, but the ban was lifted a few years later. They were often shamed and heckled by the public and never lived down their involvement in this film, even though both swore that they were forced to participate in its creation; a claim that is often contested by historians. Veit Harlan's daughter from his previous marriage was especially traumatized by her father's association with the Nazis and eventually married the son of two Holocaust victims and converted to Judaism, before committing suicide at the age of 57.
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    • One of the film's stars, Heinrich George, was denounced as a Nazi collaborator for his participation in propaganda movies and arrested by the Soviet NKVD right after the war ended. He was incarcerated at the repurposed camp of Sachsenhausen and died of starvation during his imprisonment in 1946.
    • Ferdinand Marian, the actor who portrayed the titular Jewish villain, never got over his participation in Jew Süss and eventually ran his car full speed into a tree in 1946. His wife drowned herself in a lake three years later.
  • Creator Backlash: Even before the filming began. Ferdinand Marian flat out refused to play title part, but since his stepson was half-Jewish, he agreed to star in the film in exchange for Goebbels insuring his safety. After accepting the role, Marian returned to his appartment, got drunk and smashed his furniture.
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  • Development Hell: Screenwriter Ludwig Metzger worked on the project since as early as 1921. The film was released in 1940, and looked way different from what he intended to do.
  • Executive Meddling: Ludwig Metzger eventually found a way to make the film, when propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels greenlit its production in 1939. Goebbels found Metzger's script insufficiently antisemitic and ordered him to double down on it. Goebbels also fired the head of the Terra Filmkunst studio, who refused to produce the film, and replaced him with a more obedient producer.
  • Old Shame: Kristina Söderbaum admitted in her later years that she was ashamed having taken part in this film and regretted her participation in Nazi propaganda movies. Her sincerity is still hotly debated amongst World War II and film historians, but most agree she probably did not realize the full impact of her film work until after the war.
  • The Production Curse: As seen above, virtually none of the lead actors or crew of this film came out unscathed in the aftermath.
  • Typecasting: One of several films Kristina Söderbaum made where she starred as an innocent ingenue who drowns herself after being sexually abused by a "racially impure" villain that were all directed by her husband.

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