The Second World War is over and, in the ruins of Berlin, the de-Nazification programme begins. Major Steve Arnold, an insurance agent before the war, is assigned to investigate one of the leading cultural figures of Germany, Wilhelm Furtwangler, the music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. Arnold knows nothing about music, and has never heard of Furtwangler; he`s pre-disposed to find the man guilty of being pro-Nazi - after all, Furtwangler had stayed in Germany during the Nazi era. Witnesses to the humiliating investigation are Emmi, Arnold`s secretary, whose father had been executed for being part of the plot against Hitler, and David, an American born in Leipzig who is assigned to be liaison officer. The investigation is an exhaustive one. Taking Sides is the first film Hungarian director Istvan Szabo has made which isn`t based on his own screenplay; the source is a play by British writer Ronald Harwood, which was directed by Harold Pinter in London. The theatrical origins are apparent in the fairly confined, claustrophobic nature of the story, but the intimacy is important to the success of the drama. The film raises all kinds of questions about the role of the artist in a totalitarian society; and Szabo himself knows a lot about this, having made all his early films under a Communist regime. Stellan Skarsgard is magnificent as Furtwangler. Harvey Keitel is excellent, too, as the uncultured American. Talking Sides doesn`t, in fact, take sides: it presents all sides of the arguments about the roles of culture and politics in society, and its themes are just as important today as ever they were. It`s a magnificent film, a truly thought-provoking and intelligent piece of work.