Forbidden (1984 film)

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Directed by Anthony Page
Produced by Hans Brockman
Mark Forstater
Gerald I. Isenberg
Ingrid Windisch
Written by Michael Hastings
Leonard Gross (non-fiction)
Starring Jacqueline Bisset
Jürgen Prochnow
Irene Worth
Narrated by Jacqueline Bisset
Music by Tangerine Dream
Cinematography Wolfgang Treu
Edited by Thomas Schwalm
Distributed by Anthea Films
Release dates
December 1984
Running time
114 minutes
157 minutes (Canada)
Country United Kingdom
West Germany
Language English

Forbidden is a 1984 drama film directed by Anthony Page and starring Jacqueline Bisset, Jürgen Prochnow and Irene Worth. The plot is loosely based on a true story originally told in the non-fiction book The Last Jews in Berlin by Leonard Gross about a countess who hides her Jewish boyfriend in her apartment in World War II. It was a co-production between Britain, West Germany and the United States. It was broadcast on television in America, but released in cinemas in other countries.


German countess Nina von Hadler (Bisset) is a student in veterinary medicine in Berlin, Germany on the eve of World War II. Ostracized by her family due to her liberal views and opposition to the Nazi government, she lives alone, independent and strong-willed. The film opens with Nina studying at the library the day Germany invades Poland. She is angered and tells a classmate she knows the reasons Hitler gave for the invasion (to allegedly rescue ethnic Germans) are a pack of lies.

One day while on errands Nina witnesses Brownshirts attacking a vendor. She also sees a man attempting to help the vendor. She confronts them and demands to know why he is being attacked. They say they beat him because he sells to Jews. She tells him to leave the man alone or she will report them to her brother-in-law, a high-ranking Nazi official. Later, while attending an informal party hosted by her friend, she recognises the man who came to the assistance of the vendor. Her friend, Erica, tells her that his name is Fritz Friedlander and he is a writer. She is immediately attracted to him, but Erica warns Nina that it would be illegal to date him under the Nuremberg Laws because he is Jewish. The headstrong Nina ignores this advice, however, and begins a relationship with him.

When he returns home, he finds Nina desperately waiting for him. He tells her what happened. She has worse news for him; the Resistance has discovered that the Nazis are taking the Jews to Nazi death camps in occupied Poland and gassing them. She still believes his mother is still safe in Theresienstadt. She then tells him about a train going to Switzerland. She and her friends are smuggling several Jews on board. She professes her love for him, but wants him to go where he will be safe. That night, they go to the train depot, where he and other refugees are placed in boxes with a small supply of food and water. As she leaves, she sees Fritz running up to her; he loves her so much that he's unable to leave her. Together they return home.

Germany is invaded by the Soviet Union. Nina knows that the Russians want revenge for the millions of countrymen murdered by the Third Reich. Attempting to hide in the cellar, they are caught by the Russians and forced outside. Nina yells to the soldiers that Fritz is Jewish, but they ignore her. Once outside, Fritz is forced to kneel as the Russians prepare to shoot him. He starts singing "Shema Israel". The Russian soldier lowers his gun and says that he is Jewish too. During the voice-over while the camera pans over a bombed-out and devastated Berlin, Nina tells the audience that Ruth Friedlander is eventually transferred from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz, where she is gassed. Eventually she and Fritz marry; Fritz dies in 1973.

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