A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Bridge (Bernhard Wicki, 1959)

Hans Scholten: Folker Bohnet
Albert Mutz: Fritz Wepper
Walter Forst: Michael Hinz
Jurgen Borchert: Frank Glaubrecht
Karl Horber: Karl Michael Balzer
Klaus Hager: Volker Lechtenbrink
Sigi Bernhard: Günther Hoffmann
Franziska: Cordula Trantow
Stern: Wolfgang Stumpf
Unteroffizier Heilmann: Günter Pfitzmann
Hauptmann Fröhlich: Heinz Spitzner
Oberstleutnant Bütov: Siegfried Schürenberg
Sigi's Mother: Edith Schultze-Westrum
Albert's Mother: Ruth Hausmeister
Jürgen's Mother: Eva Waiti
Walter's Father: Hans Elwenspoek
Walter's Mother: Trude Breitschopf
Karl's Father: Hans Hellmold
Barbara: Edeltraut Elsner
Sigrun: Inge Benz

Director: Bernhard Wicki
Screenplay: Michael Mansfeld, Karl-Wilhelm Vivier, Bernhard Wicki
Based on a novel by Manfred Gregor
Cinematography: Gerd von Bonin
Production design: Heinrich Graf Brühl, Peter Scharff
Film editing: Carl Otto Bartning
Music: Hans-Martin Majewski

Something of a landmark in the revival of German filmmaking before the burst of creativity wrought by Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and others in the 1960s and '70s, The Bridge is an appropriate title in that it not only looks back to what Germany was during the war, but also suggests some of the trauma that lingered into the increasingly affluent present. The decimation and psychic mutilation of the generation that came of age during the war is the film's central subject. It focuses on seven young men, still in their teens, in the final days of the Third Reich, inspired by the dream of military glory but undermined by the incompetence of the remnants of the Wehrmacht, facing a defeat it cannot admit is coming. The boys have grown up together in the same town, and they all receive their draft notices on the same day. But a well-meaning officer decides not to send these raw draftees into the heat of battle but to give them a nonsensical task: defending the bridge across the river near their town -- even though the bridge is slated to be blown up as a deterrent to the advancing Allies. It will keep them out of harm's way, the officer thinks. But communications wires get crossed and the boys on the bridge never get the message to retreat. Instead, they die "heroically," doing all the right things -- including blowing up an Allied tank -- as they make their futile stand. The story, from the novel by Gregor Dorfmeister, under his pseudonym Manfred Gregor, is based on a real event told to Dorfmeister by one of the survivors. The film is full of well-staged action and an effective re-creation of the real setting which had been completely transformed in the years since the war ended. The interaction between the boys and their families is touching without slopping over into mawkishness.

No comments: