Evil Triumphs When Good Men Do Nothing

Evil Triumphs When Good Men Do Nothing

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: August 31st 2009
Certificate (UK): 15
Running Time: 92 minutes
Year of Production: 2008

Director: Vicente Amorim

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Jason Isaacs, Mark Strong and Jodie Whittaker

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Directed by Vicente Amorim and starring Viggo Mortensen as John Halder, a German literature professor in Berlin at the time of the Nazi’s rise to power, Good is the story of such a man.

We first meet Halder at home, trying to juggle his hectic life. He wife suffers from emotional disorders and he is left to tend to the children. His elderly mother needs constant care and his father-in-law is something of a nuisance. At the university where he lectures, the book burnings have just begun and he is called to a meeting with Philipp Bouhler (Mark Strong), senior Nazi Party official, where he is given an honorary position with the National Socialist Party due to one of his books where he writes about his support for euthanasia.

Halder’s life continues to get more complicated when he decides to leave his wife in favour of a young student, Anne (Jodie Whittaker). He sends his mother to live alone, despite the care she needs and succumbs to pressure to support the party. This puts a strain on his friendship with Maurice Israel Glückstein (Jason Isaacs) a Jewish psychiatrist.

As Halder is swept up by the wave of Nazism, when he realises what’s really happening around him, it’s too late. When Maurice is taken away, Halder arranges a visit to a concentration camp to try and find him but is instead faced with the symphony of horrors which has been slowly building all around him.

Based on the 1981 British play by Cecil Philip Taylor, Good was originally meant to star Hugh Jackman in the role of Halder, but Viggo Mortensen who has consistently played roles of conflicted individuals so passionately and convincingly is amazing here. As Halder moves through the film we see him change from wearing his lecturing gown to a full SS uniform without realising he is being drawn further and further into Hitler’s nightmare.


Viggo saw the play during its 1981 and talked the impression it made on him:

“I was starting out in acting 25 years ago, and was in London on what was only my second audition. I didn’t get the part, but while I was there I saw a play, ‘Good,” with Alan Howard, and it made a strong impression. When the opportunity to play the role on film came along, I thought it an interesting way to make a circle out of the experience some quarter century later.”

Although the concentration camp scenes where filmed at Fót Studios in Budapest, Hungary, the rest of the movie was filmed in Berlin giving it a very authentic look. The inclusion of the character Philipp Bouhler adds another element of authenticity and seriousness as Bouhler was a real life Nazi official who oversaw Aktion T4, the Nazi euthanasia program that killed more than 70,000 handicapped adults and children in Germany.

You might also be interested in these articles:

A Ludovico treatment for diseases you probably didn’t know you had, Godard’s latest spree takes a cruise around the myth, history and politics of the Mediterranean.

Set in the summer of 1979, in a small town in Ohio, Super 8 is the story of six friends who stumble upon a government secret while out shooting a low budget zombie film.

Robin Williams gives Matt Damon a thorough verbal smack-down, all for the sake of a rubbish painting of a boat in part 4 of Deconstructing Cinema with Jack Murphy.

British actor Paul Bettany stars as Archangel Michael in Legion, directed by Scott Stewart, where he battles other angels who want to start a war on Earth.

Composer Clint Mansell creates a haunting score for Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan by taking a punk rock attitude to Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic, Swan Lake.