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A group of people gathers back in the post-war ruins of a luxurious Munich hotel they inhabited at one point or another years before; each trying to cope with the tragic consequences of the war and their own actions.
Susanne Wallner returns to the ruins of Berlin from a Concentration Camp after WW2 to discover that someone else lives in her apartment: Dr. Hans Mertens, the war made him depressive and he drinks a lot of alcohol. Susanne asks him to go but he doesn't want to, so they share Susanne's apartment and even discover their sympathy and then their love for each other. That encourages him a little, of course. But then he hears that Ferdinand Brückner is still alive and also lives in Berlin. Brückner was his Captain during WW2, he gave the order to kill more than 100 innocent people, many children and women among them, on Christmas 1942 in Poland. Written by
"Die mörder sind unter uns" takes place in Berlin in ruins and features three main characters:Susanne (Hildegarde Knef),a survivor from the concentration camps;a former army medical officer,haunted and tormented by what he did and saw;a former nazi officer who feels no remorse because "he used to obey".
Susanne ,played by gorgeous Knef,wants to pick up the pieces.She's the strongest character of the movie .She comes back from hell,so what could be worse?To her Xmas means forgiveness and she knows that death breeds death.When he sees her take care of the seedy flat,the doctor first shrugs,but soon he will use his radiographs to replace the panes. Biggest flaw:it's impossible to believe that Susanne is just out of a camp:actually she seems to go out of a beauty parlor.
The doctor is a human wreck who heavily drinks to forget the war horrors.It's only when he meets again his former superior that he rouses himself from his lethargy.Although he feels hatred and thirst of revenge,he is not devoid of compassion:when he takes the man he wants to kill to a desert place among the ruins ,he heeds the call of a desperate mother:it's the most emotional sequence of the movie.
On the other hand,the officer behaves as if the war had never happened:the parallel between the two Xmas celebrations(past and present) climaxes the movie .The director chose a good-natured actor,nothing like the nazi villain we generally meet.
The directing shows Fritz Lang's (and expressionism) influence:the huge shadow on the criminal recalls the little girl with the balloon scene in "M".And along with "the third man",the movie had a strong influence on two movies: -"the man between"(1953),another Carol Reed movie :James Mason's character resembles the doctor of this movie.
-and mainly,mainly, Rosselini's "Germania anno zero"(1948),which dwarves "die mörder sind unter uns".People who enjoyed Staudte's movie should see the Italian genius's masterpiece.
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