Dom över död man (The Last Sentence) (2012)

 

 

 

Director:     Jan Troell.

Starring:     Jesper Christensen (Torgny Segerstedt), Pernilla August (Maja Forssman), Ulla Skoog (Puste Segerstedt), Björn Granath (Axel Forssman), Kenneth Milldoff (Per Albin Hansson), Lennart Hjulström (Marcus Wallenberg), Peter Andersson (Christian Günther), Birte Heribertson (Estrid Ancker), Lia Boysen (Anita Levisson), Maria Heiskanen (Pirjo), Johanna Troell (Ingrid Segerstedt), Åsa-Lena Hjelm (Ida), Marina Nyström (Hilda), Hanna Holmqvist (Eva Segerstedt), Pasi Ilvesviita (Tojje Segerstedt).

a Swedish journalist warns the Swedes about Hitler and Nazism and keeps criticizing Sweden's neutrality against such a terrific evil

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

In Sweden a man watches newsreels in a movie theater.  The subject is Adolf Hitler and his coming to power.  It shows the dictator with Reichskanzler Franz von Papen and the flying ace Herman Goring.  The man, who is a senior citizen, writes that Hitler is an insult.  

February 1933.  Torgny Segerstedt is the editor-in-chief.  A woman named Maja Forssman comes into Torgny's office.  The man with Torgny tells Maja that Torgny has declared war.   Maja wants Torgny to read his article.  Torgny reads:  "It is an insult to all sense to force such a leader on a great people.  This is a matter not only for Germany.  Germany is not an isolated island in the ocean.  It is right in the middle of Europe.  To force the world to expend effort on this character is inexcusable.  Herr Hitler is an insult."  The Jewish Maja claps her hands in approval. 

Torgny's wife and her servants are preparing a fancy dinner for very important guests.  Torgny comes home.  Puste, his wife, says she is very tired.  He tells her she should take a nap. 

At the dinner Torgny says:  "But if we don't speak openly about the crimes currently being committed under Nazi rule in Germany, we are not only hostages to the lie, but its promoters.  And we're guilty not only of high treason but of throwing every honest man and woman to the tyrants and oppressors. . . . .  the truth is that if you dine with the Devil you want to have a long spoon.  . . . the Devil is synonymous with Adolf Hitler.  He is also a devourer of human beings."

Torgny later tells the men that there will be war.  One man says that a German friend of his wanted a Swedish newspaper to write an article criticizing the German practice of harassment against the Jews.

After the dinner guests have left, Puste cries at the table.  Her adult daughter asks her what's wrong?  Mother says what does Maja have that she doesn't have."  Daughter responds:  "A newspaper, mother."

Torgny goes to work at the Goteborg Trade and Seafarer Daily Paper.  He takes his three dogs in with him. 

Torgny receives a telegram.  It says:  "I strongly protest the column in your newspaper of Friday, February 3rd under the heading 'Today' statements about our Reichskanzler as a great danger to friendship and kindness between our peoples.  Before further measures are taken, I would like to be informed how your editorial staff will handle such statements in the future.  Before further measures are taken?"  Torgny takes the telegram and says it's from Hermann Goring, Reichsminister, morphine addict and murderer.  The owner of the paper says that tomorrow they will be on every front page, from DN (Dagens Nyheter) to the Times.  The staff toasts to that. 

It seems that there is a relationship between Maja and Torgny.  They kiss on the lips. 

Puste says that Maja is a cultured woman and a Jewess.  She says that at the luncheon some of the people said that Hermann Goring is a lovely man. 

Maja and Torgny are in bed together. Torgny goes down the steps of the house to the ground floor as Axel, Maja's husband, is going upstairs.  They say hello to each other. 

Axel tells Torgny that their Berlin correspondent has been sent home.  Axel is upset that Torgny wrote that Goring was once in a Swedish mental ward.  He says:  "That could affect the paper."  Torgny asks Axel why doesn't he divorce Maja?  Axel asks, what for? 

Torgny changes the subject saying there was a fire in the Reichstag in Berlin tonight. 

Anita has tea with Maja, who tells her that she loves Axel and Axel loves her.  She adds:  "I take what I need, Anita."

Puste plays the piano and sings by herself.  She is interrupted by a car horn.  Maja, sitting in the back of her limousine, picks Torgny up. 

One morning Puste confronts Torgny saying that sometimes she thinks that Torgny doesn't even like her.  She says things aren't like they used to be.  Torgny says how could they be.  Their son died when he was 13 years old and today he would have been 27 years of age.  Puste asks him if he is impotent?  He says, yes, maybe I am impotent, but maybe only when he's with her.  For that remark, Puste pours hot coffee on the Great Dane dog.  Torgny is furious with her.

At a formal dinner, Axel offers a toast to Torgny and Puste.  Maja continues openly to favor Torgny.  That's hard on Puste.  Maja asks Puste to sing in her native Norwegian language.  Puste sings a very romantic love song.  That makes Torgny feel a little embarrassed. 

Maja comes over to Puste and says that she hears that Puste is ill.  Puste tells her that what ails her is her husband.  She says Maja and Torgny have their Hitler together, but what does she have with her husband?  Maja and Torgny dance together. 

Alone with her husband, Maja asks him if they even have a real marriage together?  Axel doesn't like those kinds of questions.  He likes to say he has the perfect marriage.  Maja asks him if he just married her for her money?  Axel says that's vulgar talk.  Maja injects herself with a drug which relaxes her. 

Puste tells one of her daughters that she is going home to Norway.  She gets in a limousine and is taken away. 

The daughter tells her father that mother may never come back and she blames father.  She says he treats his wife like air.  She starts crying saying that at one time they used to be a family, but father has changed.  She asks why were they never allowed to mourn for their dead brother? 

Maja and Torgny have sex together in Torgny's house.  After that the huge dogs come into the room.  Maja says she will never divorce Axel because she could never share Torgny with his dogs. 

Puste comes back home.  She doesn't say anything to Torgny and he doesn't say anything to her. 

Torgny daydreams of the past talking to his dissertation mentor in the subject of theology.  He tells his mentor that he failed with his dissertation.  And now he doesn't even really believe in God. 

Later he tells Puste that she locked him into her care, which he did not want.  He says it's all her fault.  They both laugh at that. 

1938.  The group has another get together over dinner.  The prime minister is there too.  Axel asks Torgny how is his Hitler doing today?  Torgny says there is a war.  The Germans take over Austria. 

Maja gets a letter addressed:   "To the Jewess Mrs. Forssman."  Her husband says Dagens Nyheter  (Today's News) has Torgny on its front page.  They published the entire speech.  "German Jews are currently heading for Germany's borders in large numbers in the hopes of reaching other nations.  They are met there by guards with bayonets lowered.  We are responsible for what we say about what happens in another nation.  But we are also responsible for what we do not say.  We still have a free press, and must know and value what that means."

A German calls up Torgny and threatens to kill him. 

Torgny finds his bulldog dead.  The doctor says he thinks the poison strychnine was used.   

Torgny writes that war is coming soon.  "It is coming rapidly, like the dark clouds of a storm."

Prime Minister Per-Albin Hansson speaks over the radio.  "Citizens, that terrible thing that we kept hoping the world would be spared has happened.  Another great war has begun.  We must accept this sad fact, and it makes little sense to try and put into words the sorrow and fear we are experiencing.  Now we Swedes have to quietly and confidently unite in the great task of keeping our nation out of the war.  To care for land promote our inalienable national strengths."

Torgny gets a new secretary, Estrid Ancker.  Torgny also has a new bulldog puppy. 

Finland declares it's in a state of war.  Field Marshal Mannerheim is now commander-in-chief of Finnish troops.  Russian troops have crossed into Finland and Russian planes have bombed Helsinki, Vyborg and Enso. 

Sweden gets a new Foreign Minister and his first job is to rein in his old friend, Torgny. 

Torgny tells his secretary that Gunther asked Segerstedt to stop his writings.  The Swedish politicians are afraid that Germany will attack their country and they want Segerstedt to stop his writings. Axel agrees with the politicians and says that if Torgny keeps writing, he will ruin their newspaper.

The prime minister says that Torgny endangers national security with his writings.  Torgny tells him that silence is acquiescence to Nazism.  The prime minister says all he wants is for Torgny to watch his choice of words so that Sweden is not plunged into war.  He also says that Torgny runs the risk of becoming a traitor. 

Germany has commenced military action against Norway and Denmark.

Torgny goes to see the Swedish king.    The king also doesn't liked the writings of Torgny, but he doesn't forbid him from keeping on with his writings.

The government forces Torgny to take one of his essays out of the paper.  Torgny leaves the title of his article in the paper but takes the text out.  The paper is run off with the blank columns clearly visible. 

Germany attacks the Soviet Union.

Torgny talks to his mother.  He says today is his 65th birthday.  They have a big birthday bash for Torgny. 

Axel and Maja drive Torgny home. 

It's New Year's Eve.  Axel tells Torgny that he is dying of a problem with his pancreas.  He asks Torgny to take care of Maja.  He says he's concerned because it seems hat Torgny is pulling away from Maja. 

Torgny goes to see Maja.  She asks him if he loves her?  He asks her:  "What would I be without you?"  He now pulls himself away from Maja and leaves her bedroom.

Torgny goes over to see his secretary.  He asks her what would he do without her?  They touch each other's cheek with one hand.

Anita goes to see Maja.  Maja ask Anita to tell Torgnyim that she did not want to be a burden on him.  Is Maja committing suicide now?

Torgny dreams that he sees his mother in a veil.  But it's not his mother.  It's Maja who has come to see him.  They talk for a short while, and then Maja says she has to go and see Axel now.  

And now it's the Germans' turn to be prisoners of war by the thousands.  

New Year's Eve 1944.  Torgny says he is bored out of his mind.  He recently had a stroke. 

He goes to work and types out another essay.  He tells his secretary that he would like to see Herr Hitler dead before he himself dies. 

While walking up a long staircase, Torgny slumps down.  He is now laying in his bed.  His daughter says that Estrid is here.  He asks for a pen.  Estrid comes to him and tells him that she loves him.  His daughter will take down whatever her father says.  Torgny asks:  Hitler. Is he dead?  The women tell him yes. A little bit of a smile comes to his face, and then he dies. 

 

Sweden was neutral during World War II.  But not every Swede was neutral in his or her beliefs.  Torgny Segerstedt was an editor in chief that directly criticized Hitler as an evil creature like the devil and would bring the world to war again.  Torgny came in for a lot of criticism, but no one ever forbade Torgny from writing his broadside against the Nazis.  They did, however, asked him to cool it some.  Even the king asks him to be more careful in his choice of words.  Torgny may have modulated some of his word choices, but he kept on writing.  And he was seen by the anti-Fascists as a man of courage and fortitude.  This film deals with Torgny's life during his last years dealing with the Fascists in Germany when he has to deal with a lot of criticism for his outspokenness and his trouble with his family life.  Watch how the Swedes react in different ways to Torgny's writings about the German and Italian Fascists.  Do they finally shut up Torgny?   The acting was good. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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