After WWII, Berlin lies in ruins. For Gustav, Willi and their friends the rubble provides an adventurous, dangerous playground. Especially for Gustav, it helps pass the time, as he longs ... See full summary »
After WWII, Berlin lies in ruins. For Gustav, Willi and their friends the rubble provides an adventurous, dangerous playground. Especially for Gustav, it helps pass the time, as he longs for his father's return from a POW camp. One day a stranger arrives, looking helpless and hopeless... Gerhard Lamprecht built his reputation during the 1920s and '30s with films like Emil and the Detectives (1931, script Billy Wilder) and socially-critical Berlin films based on the drawings of Heinrich Zille. In Somewhere in Berlin-his first postwar film, made just months after the cessation of hostilities-he portrays the people of the shattered city with precision and psychological realism. Written by
DEFA Film Library
In this third so-called "Trümmer"film director Gerhardt Lamprecht shows with his impeccable and subtle direction a study of a small labourer's community "somewhere in Berlin", one year after WW2. For this he made use of the main element of his 1931 "Emil und Die Detektive", namely a group of children around which the story is centered; this time these children are used as a hope for the future. This reference can be also so seen as a symbol for going further where Germany in 1933 stopped; as such it is interesting to see that no reference is made to the Nazi period other than the misery it has brought the community: there are no ex-nazis in the community.
Until the dramatic events concerning the boy Willy only the rubble and ruins of Berlin are used as background; the drama round Willy is a sign for the community and for the children not to look back again. From that moment Lamprcht mainly uses the parts of Berlin that were not bombed as background; this is a very strong dramatic turning point in the meaning of the image. Note how in this part the petty thief - played superbly by Fritz Rasp (and repeating his role from "Emil und die Detektive"; again the link with that film) - is the only character still seen walking about in the ruins.
The fine cinematography has an almost documentary style, except in the dramatic scene with the boy Willy. In that scene the cinematography has a very different style and certainly the lightning is very different as is the style of mise-en-scene: I had the image of the room (after the boys have entered) freeze-framed for closer study: the scene is composed as a romantic/religious painting, a bit too sentimental maybe. But, as such the complete scene is very well done.
Again Lamprecht shows that he was a master in directing children (children always played an important part in his movies). Complete cast is fine, with Paul Bildt brilliant as the black marketer. The script is well-written with psychologically well-thought out characters, although the way it shows how the father is treated after his return (scene: giving back the stolen wallet) is too simple. I do not agree with remarks in the literature on this film that there are too many sub-plots: the cumulation of these plots make the film into the precise observation of the community.
The only real objection one might have is the last scene and within that scene the last shots: this is very close to making the labourer heroic. But never mind: the film is rewarding viewing and it is far better than Roberto Rosselini's "Germania Anno Zero" (1948) that deals heavily handed with the more or less same subject.
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