Judgment in Berlin (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

Judgment in Berlin (1988)





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Movie Info

In 1978, an East German waiter used a toy gun to hijack a Polish airliner heading for East Berlin and forced the pilot to land at an American Air Force base in West Germany. The best-selling book about the ensuing trial of the hijacker -- written by the presiding judge, Herbert J. Stern -- is given film treatment by director Leo Penn. The back story involves a West German contractor working both sides of Germany, who has fallen in love with a woman from East Berlin. The contractor arranges for the woman, her daughter and another man (Heinz Hoenig), who has children living in West Germany, to meet him in Gdansk, Poland, where he will give them false documents allowing them to get into West Germany. When the contractor is arrested, they must make other plans. Sneaking a toy gun on an airplane bound for East Germany, the man compels the pilot to steer the plane to West Germany, where he hopes to seek asylum and see his children. But this is the first time a hijacker has sought asylum in the west and it sets off a political firestorm. The American and West Germany governments have signed an international accord to prevent skyjackings and the Soviet government is pressuring them to prosecute the hijackers to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Justice Department wants a quick trial and hires a tough judge (Martin Sheen), who, they think, will prosecute the case swiftly and be done with it. However, the judge is more than the authorities have bargained for -- he wants the defendants to be given a fair trial and all of the rights guaranteed to them under the Constitution.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Joshua Sinclair, Leo Penn
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 3, 2004
New Line Cinema

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Heinz Hoenig
as Helmut Thiele
Martin Sheen
as Herbert J Stern
Sean Penn
as Guenther X
Sam Wanamaker
as Bernard Hellring
Max Gail
as Judah Best
Jürgen Heinrich
as Uri Andreyev
Harris Yulin
as Bruno Ristau
Carl Lumbly
as Edwin Palmer
Max Volkert Martens
as Hans Schuster
Cristine Rose
as Marsha Stern
Joshua Sinclair
as Alan Sherman
Jutta Speidel
as Sigrid Radke
Eileen Ryan
as Guenther X's Mother
Ted Herold
as Rock Singer in Night...
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News & Interviews for Judgment in Berlin

Critic Reviews for Judgment in Berlin

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (5)

Full Review… | October 24, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 10, 2004
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 21, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

October 9, 2005
Fantastica Daily

Audience Reviews for Judgment in Berlin

During the days of the Berlin Wall a trial in that city for a East German who freely admits that he hijacked a passenger flight in order to escape to the West. Directed by Sean Penn's father, Leo, and including a centerpiece performance by Sean himself, this Martin Sheen production (with a star turn given by Sheen as well) reeks of sentimental liberalism but is nonetheless touching.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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