It’s hard to believe that a movie starring Oscar veteran Al Pacino brought in just over $14,000 in opening revenue, but that’s enough to indicate the misfortune of this work.
“American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally” is a historical drama in which director Michael Polish brought Al Pacino and star Meadow Williams together, and it was shown on the last Monday of last May, coinciding with “American Memorial Day” (Memorial Day). Read also After a long and rich career, Scorsese presents the American West for the first timeThe first Turkish robotic actress to sign a contract to star in a movieThe movie “Hana K” .. Costa-Gavras’ masterpiece that did justice to Palestine Horror tops cinema revenues, led by the second part of the movie “A Quiet Place”
scatter the story
The film begins with Mildred Gellars (Meadow Williams) arrested in Germany after the war, then extradited to Washington to face eight counts of treason and conspiracy. Her case falls in the way of longtime lawyer James Laughlin (played by Al Pacino’s role bluntly), to tell her that she is the most hated person in America after Hitler.
As the case goes to trial, “the story’s momentum is scattered and scattered,” says Neil Mino, with the film intertwined with flashbacks, interspersed with scenes from Gellars’ wartime experiences and details of her career from living obscurely in Germany when the Nazis took power, to her work with Joseph Goebbels, the notorious Nazi propaganda minister (played by Thomas Kretschmann) in radio broadcasts intended to undermine the morale of American forces.
As Goebbels taught her that “the spoken word is the most powerful weapon in the world”, she directed her speech in a seductive voice full of narcissistic sighs across the ether, encouraging American soldiers to flee from war, frightening them of being injured, and of their women and daughters being tempted while they were away in the war. She is later shown visiting American prisoners of war, to convey a picture of their treatment, and to exhort them to send messages that they are being well looked after.
So the main question in the movie is to what extent was Guillerz manipulated? Was she acting of her own free will? Or was she the victim of the carrot-and-stick game of Goebbels, who kept her passport so she couldn’t leave, and forced her to sign a pledge of allegiance, after he cruelly assaulted her?
Innocence from treason
Still alive, Gellars angrily insists that Laughlin prove her innocence, as a martyr to public opinion and a victim of some powerful savage men, shouting “They’ve used me my whole life”.
He says the best he can do is get you a fair trial. He then surprisingly enlists the help of an inexperienced advisor, Billy Owen (Swain Temmel), who is presumably the same William Owen who co-authored the book on which the script is based, and whose existence “serves no visible narrative purpose whatsoever except as a man fascinated by the wizardry of Gellars.” ‘,” says Qiang, only using his emotional style to influence her during her visit, and stir her up, to share more of her story.
Noting that Owen was the only real-life counterpart to appear in the closing archive footage, suggesting that he was the character that the film might consider to have been the most sympathetic to Gellars in fact.
When the judge tells the jury, “Treason is the crime that does the most harm because it attacks a state, not an individual.” Laughlin faces court with three arguments to acquit Gellars of treason.
First, “she was not responsible for this propaganda, but was merely someone reading from a text written by others under duress.”
Moreover, “the propaganda that she was broadcasting did not undermine morale, and no one took her words seriously.”
In addition, she had no other choice, other than what Goebbels told her, that “those who did not submit were sent to concentration camps or killed.” How can we blame her if the alternative is imprisonment or execution?
Critics are angry
Many critics attacked the film, with New York Times art editor Glen Kinney writing, “This is a heavy, slow-paced, unexciting, frantic film.”
As for Variety critic Jessica Kiang, although she considered Pacino “strong dramatic rhythm”, she expressed her strong dissatisfaction with the film, which she described as completely ridiculous.
This is the view of Wall Street Journal editor Gary Goldstein, who sees the film’s bright spot as Al Pacino’s cunning, quick-tempered rage, and involuntary twitches, but “there’s nothing else”.
Roger Ebert’s Neil Mino also considered that director Michael Polish seemed more interested in the look of the film than its story or characters, “until he kept swinging back and forth, without touching on issues such as involvement, guilt and justice, which needed to be considered.” with depth, insight, or even sympathy.” Just amazing lighting, and finely framed shots to create great visuals, but it’s not enough to bring the story to life.
Over most of the one hour and 49 minute film, the face of its heroine, Meadow Williams, showed little expression, “like a woman with 400 hats and one expression,” Jessica Kiang puts it. Although some attribute this to the choice of character, and the text, which was co-written by Polish Vance Owen in partnership with Daryl Hicks. But in the end, he “presented an obstacle to any communication with her while watching”, according to critic Neil Mino.