by Stephen M. Klugewicz
Everyone knows a John Halder, the central character of the 2008 film Good. He is the go-along-to-get-along type, someone who might have passed through life without committing any grand evil if not for the fact that evil found him–and he was found wanting. Halder is that passerby who looks the other way when he sees a man accosting a woman on the street corner; that vice president at work who is afraid to oppose the CEO’s corrupt conduct; the head of clergy for the diocese who meekly obeys the bishop’s order to transfer pedophile priests; the soldier who shoots innocents with the excuse that he was just obeying orders. Yes, John Halders are all around us.
In Good, Halder (played by a thin Viggo Mortensen) is an unassuming, middle-aged professor of literature in 1930s Germany. Lonely and burdened as he takes care of a senile mother and a neurotic wife, Halder is easily seduced, both by the sexual advances of a student and by the Nazi party, which summons him to the chancellery to discuss a piece of writing that has come to the attention of Adolf Hitler himself. The work in question is an obscure novel by Halder, a romance in which a lover helps his suffering companion take her own life in the face of painful, terminal disease. The Nazis ask Halder to write a brief paper defending euthanasia, and the bookish academic, both intimidated and flattered by the attention, complies. [Read more...]