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Open AccessArticle

Making the Call: Art and Politics in Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides

Department of Comparative Humanities, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA
Humanities 2020, 9(4), 118; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040118
Received: 4 September 2020 / Revised: 29 September 2020 / Accepted: 8 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary British-Jewish Literature, 1970–2020)
Set in Germany during the denazification processes following World War Two, Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides (1995 play, 2001 film) pits German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler against a relatively uncultured American interrogator, Steve Arnold, to, as Harwood says, examine the role of an artist under a totalitarian state and an American’s mistreatment of the world-renowned maestro. While there is certainly a contrast between the old world, represented by the classical music of Furtwängler, and the new, represented by Arnold’s affinity for jazz, there is much more at stake in both the play and the film. As the interrogation progresses, Arnold, who worked as an insurance claims adjuster during his civilian days, senses Furtwängler’s arguments about art as apolitical, are what he calls “airy-fairy” excuses. Arnold knows Hitler favored Furtwängler, used his music to inspire his atrocities, and gave Furtwangler access to almost anything he wanted. Critics frequently praise the play and film for its balanced presentation of the two sides. However, by examining the play and the film in terms of Aristotelian tragedy, this essay makes clear that Furtwängler’s refusal to take sides has grave consequences, consequences that only the crude, “ugly American” Arnold is willing to discuss. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ronald Harwood; Taking Sides; denazification; Wilhelm Furtwängler; Jewish Drama Ronald Harwood; Taking Sides; denazification; Wilhelm Furtwängler; Jewish Drama
MDPI and ACS Style

Hall, A.C. Making the Call: Art and Politics in Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides. Humanities 2020, 9, 118. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040118

AMA Style

Hall AC. Making the Call: Art and Politics in Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides. Humanities. 2020; 9(4):118. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040118

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hall, Ann C. 2020. "Making the Call: Art and Politics in Ronald Harwood’s Taking Sides" Humanities 9, no. 4: 118. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9040118

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