The Good Shepherd (2006)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title The Good Shepherd
Original title The Good Shepherd
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 2006
length 167 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
JMK 12
Director Robert De Niro
script Eric Roth
production Robert De Niro,
James G. Robinson ,
Jane Rosenthal
music Bruce Fowler ,
Marcelo Zarvos
camera Robert Richardson
cut Tariq Anwar

The Good Shepherd is a 2006 thriller by Robert De Niro . The film was released on December 22, 2006 in the USA and was released on February 15, 2007 in Germany. From June 28, 2007, it was marketed as DVD .


After graduating from Yale University , Edward Wilson became a Skull and Bones member in 1939 . During the Second World War he became a member of the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and after the war of the newly founded CIA . Wilson is a secret service agent in the Congo , the Dominican Republic and Cuba . During his 20 years of service during the Cold War , shown in the film, the young poetry student becomes a callous man who becomes estranged from his family.

At a Skull and Bones celebration, he meets his friend's sister, Clover, whom he marries out of conscientiousness because of her pregnancy. Wilson comes into contact with FBI agent Sam Murach and helps him break up a Nazi brotherhood. Soon after, he was hired by the patriotic General Bill Sullivan for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He leaves his wife Clover in the US while pregnant when he has to move to London for the OSS . After about six years, he returns home, where he sees his son Edward Jr. for the first time. In 1947, after the dissolution of the OSS, he became a senior staff member at the newly founded CIA. Wilson searches for reasons for the failure of the American Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 .

The film interweaves different storylines in the form of flashbacks. Wilson deals with a corruption case within the CIA and how information about the planned invasion got to the KGB . Wilson apparently doesn't trust anyone except General Sullivan and his deputy Ray Brocco. In this storyline there is another flashback to Wilson's childhood that becomes important for the end of the film. When Edward Wilson was six years old, his father Thomas Wilson shot himself. Edward took his suicide note without showing it to anyone and without opening it. General Sullivan's early loss made him a father figure.

Further flashbacks deal with Wilson's espionage activities in London and Berlin . This brings him into contact with "Ulysses", his counterpart in the KGB, who sees Wilson as an appropriate opponent. His son Eddie becomes a member of the CIA, which leads to further conflicts. An anonymously leaked, blurry photo should give an indication of a possible traitor. Due to an indistinct and manipulated tape, it later turns out that his son's fiancé is said to be an enemy agent.

Wilson's son had suffered throughout his life from the fact that everything in his parents' house was secret and therefore, despite decades of marriage, no basis of trust could develop between his parents. This has become his weakness, and he “confidently” chatted out the decisive Spanish word for “Bay of Pigs” that he had picked up. Since his fiancée passed on this information, although she probably loves him seriously, the invasion troops could be quickly repulsed by the prepared troops waiting for them right at the Bay of Pigs.

With this, Wilson's son threatens to become the subject of intelligence at the CIA, even though he doesn't even know that he was the leak and that his fiancée was acting as an enemy agent. Ulysses tries to get Wilson to work for the other side with the threat that he will not be able to help his son otherwise. Wilson refuses, on the grounds that there is no longer any reason to harm his son, the damage has already been done. However, he leaves the question of the fate of his son's fiancé unanswered.

Immediately before the wedding, his son is waiting in front of the church while his fiancée, who is on the way there, is pushed off the plane on the way. It remains open which secret service is responsible for this murder. But there is much to suggest that Wilson himself ended a relationship that was dangerous for his son and ultimately also for him in this way.

The end of the film takes place in the headquarters of the CIA. This has a new boss and should be "cleaned up" because of the leak. Wilson becomes head of the counter-espionage department. In addition, democratic control should be exercised. This is exactly what General Sullivan had always considered necessary so that the CIA would only become the eye and not the head and heart of the United States. Under new leadership, however, the political desire for control of the CIA is only smiled: "As if we would ever allow that."

Wilson is only now opening his father's suicide note, which he has kept since childhood. This includes the challenge to do better, to stand upright, to be courageous, to become a good husband and a good father. Wilson destroys the letter and enters the new CIA headquarters.


Robert De Niro and Matt Damon at the premiere of the film in Berlin

The film was shot in New York , Washington, DC , Tarrytown , Greenwich , London and Santo Domingo . Filming began on August 15, 2005 in New York and ended on January 31, 2006. The cost of production was around 85 million US dollars estimated. The film celebrated its world premiere on December 11, 2006 in New York City. From December 22, 2006, The Good Shepherd was shown in US cinemas. A screening at the Berlinale followed on February 10, 2007 . The cinema release in Germany was February 15, 2007, in Austria the film was shown one day later. From March 21, 2007 he could be seen in Switzerland. On the opening weekend, the film grossed over $ 14.1 million in the US, and totaled over $ 59.9 million in the US. Outside the US there was an additional $ 40 million. In the first 20 days, the German box office counted over 264,000 viewers.

Originally, Leonardo DiCaprio was supposed to play the main role of Edward Wilson. Since DiCaprio was busy filming The Departed , Matt Damon took on the role of Edward Wilson, although Damon was also involved in the production of The Departed . Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson Sr. He is the main character in the film, based in part on James Jesus Angleton and in part on undercover surgery specialist Richard M. Bissell Jr., First Co-Director of the National Reconnaissance Office (DNRO) .

For Joe Pesci , it was the first film since Lethal Weapon 4 , released in 1998 . Robert De Niro had been working on the film's preparation for 10 years. Robert De Niro, accompanied by Milton Bearden et al. , Met for the research . a. with the former CIA opponent Markus Wolf .

It was clear from the start that James Horner would write the music. But just before the recording sessions of this was because of disagreements with director Robert De Niro by Marcelo Zarvos and orchestrator Bruce Fowler replaced. The violin solo that can be heard at the end of the film was recorded by Lindsay Deutsch from Los Angeles . The soundtrack, consisting of 28 tracks, was released on February 16, 2007 by Alive.

Robert De Niro hired numerous well-known people for his baton, including cameraman Robert Richardson (Oscar for JFK & Aviator ), costume designer Ann Roth (Oscar for The English Patient ) and screenwriter Eric Roth ( Oscar for Forrest Gump , Oscar nominations for The Insider , Munich and The Strange Case of Benjamin Button ). Eric Roth wrote the screenplay for Francis Ford Coppola in 1994 , who later left the project because he found the characters to be insufficiently emotional. Allyson Floyd made her acting debut on The Good Shepherd , but the scene she starred in was cut out before release.

The novel Ulysses by James Joyce is shown in the film several times and is part of the plot.

The fictional characters allude to historical figures through their outward appearance and name similarities. The role of Edward Wilson is partly based on James Jesus Angleton , the longtime chief of counterintelligence of the CIA. The character Yuri Modin is loosely based on Anatoly Mikhailovich Golitsyn , while the role of Dr. Fredricks was inspired by Alan Turing . "General Sullivan" corresponds to the Wall Street attorney and war veteran General "Wild Bill" Donovan , who drove the OSS forward. The name "Sullivan" is an allusion to the corporate law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, which belonged to the leading European OSS man and later CIA boss Allen Welsh Dulles , who in turn was the godfather of the pipe-smoking "Philip Allen". The main character of Edward Wilson bears a resemblance to Richard Helms , James Jesus Angleton and Allen Dulles. The name "Wilson" may be a reference to President Woodrow Wilson , who had taught Dulles at Princeton University and who used Dulles as a diplomat after the First World War . The first name of Wilson's wife Clover corresponds to that of Dulle's wife, who, like Dulles, betrayed and estranged herself from him during his years of service in World War II Europe. The SS man Wolf who volunteered for Wilson is modeled on Karl Wolff , who defected to the USA in the last days of the war and later worked for the CIA. The British chief of defense and double agent Arch Cummings, whose last name was borrowed from the intelligence chief Smith-Cumming , is modeled after Kim Philby . The Mafioso who is involved in Operation Mongoose for the CIA corresponds to Sam Giancana , Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante . The interrogation of an agent made submissive with the drug LSD , who jumps out of the window in a frenzy, alludes to an incident in the MKULTRA program in 1953, in which large-scale human experiments with LSD were carried out. CIA bioweapons expert Frank Olson fell to his death from a New York hotel window, according to CIA reports from 1975 - which sparked a scandal in the United States - under the influence of LSD administered by colleagues. The interrogated agent is reminiscent of the Soviet defector Yuri Ivanovich Nossenko , who was imprisoned by the CIA under inhuman conditions for five years because he was apparently wrongly believed to be a false defector. The execution by dropping from airplanes was in a similar form of CIA commandos during the Phoenix program in Vietnam War practiced. The distant father-son relationship is similar to that between Dulles and his son Allen Macy Dulles, who was fatally wounded as a soldier in the Korean War. Philip Allen's Swiss bank accounts allude to the Dulles brothers' dealings with Hjalmar Schacht and the Schroeder banking house, which Hitler financed and who were publicly related to Nazi Germany until the start of the war.


epd Film ambiguously discusses a “multi-faceted” film, “which spreads its spread-like story with remarkable understatement and the courage to be vague: in the end it is hardly possible to distinguish between good and bad” and praises the script and the presentation. The Catholic film work film-dienst considers it “worth seeing”. TheWiesbaden film evaluation agency awarded the rating particularly valuable .

Michael Althen from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote on February 14, 2007 The Good Shepherd was “sometimes agonizing over 167 minutes, but also incredibly fascinating. [...] The film is almost about nothing - although of course it's about everything, namely how the CIA became what it is - the hero seems to dissolve before our eyes and with him almost Matt Damon, the star, who plays it, so that one could also speak of more severe deconstruction here , as one would expect in the museum, or at least in the more art-loving forum of the Berlinale . [...] Because as a director, De Niro's project seems to drive the actors out of glamor - and that is only logical in a world in which the individual is only a cog in the game of powers. "

The New Yorker called The Good Shepherd one of the best films ever made on the subject of espionage. Although Robert De Niro had only directed a film before, he managed to master long passages. Even James Berardinelli was fascinated. De Niro keep the audience under their spell until the end.

Jim Emerson of , on the other hand, saw a "aimlessly meandering " movie, "limp and ineffective". Dominique Zahnd from considers the film to be “a sluggishly staged, emotionally cold political thriller, which in places is almost excruciatingly boring”.


The Silver Bear was awarded at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival for “outstanding artistic achievements” by the ensemble of actors, while Robert De Niro was nominated for the Golden Bear. In the same year, Eric Roth received the International Thriller Award - Best Screenplay for the script .

At the 2007 Academy Awards , the two set decorators Gretchen Rau and Leslie E. Rollins as well as the art decorator Jeannine Claudia Oppewall were nominated for an Oscar in the category Best Achievement in Art Direction . The American Society of Cinematographers nominated Robert Richardson in 2007 for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases . In 2007, the Art Directors Guild nominated eleven people from the film crew for the Excellence in Production Design Award . From the Casting Society of America received Amanda Mackey Johnson and Cathy Sandrich 2007 nominations in the category Best Feature Film Casting - Drama . Eric Roth was nominated for Best Screenplay at the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Awards , while that same year he took third place in the same category at the National Society of Film Critics Awards . At the VES Awards , Matthew Gratzner , Forest P. Fischer , Enrico Altmann and Leigh-Alexandra Jacob were nominated in the category Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Motion Picture in 2007.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of Release for The Good Shepherd . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , December 2006 (PDF; test number: 108 611 K).
  2. Age rating for The Good Shepherd . Youth Media Commission .
  3. Locations according to the Internet Movie Database
  4. a b c d budget and box office results according to the Internet Movie Database
  5. a b c d e Start dates according to the Internet Movie Database
  6. Boxofficemojo box office earnings
  7. Yeah, I'm Talkin 'To You : Interview with Robert De Niro , Time Magazine, December 3, 2006
  8. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Background information according to the Internet Movie Database
  9. Seymour Hersh : Family Plans to Sue CIA Over Suicide in Drug Test. In: New York Times . July 10, 1975. Retrieved August 12, 2009 .
  10. epd Film 2/2007, p. 56
  11. film-dienst 4/2007
  12. ^ History of a career in the early days of the CIA ( Memento of December 23, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  13. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , Michael Althen , February 14, 2007
  14. David Denby : Best and Brightest , The New Yorker , December 25, 2006 / January 1, 2007
  15. James Berardinelli on
  16. ^ Film review , Jim Emerson, December 22, 2006
  17. The thriller with the license to yawn , Dominique Zahnd
  18. a b c d e f g nominations and awards according to the Internet Movie Database