Edmund, a young boy who lives in war-devastated Germany after the Second World War has to do all kinds of work and tricks to help his family in getting food and barely survive. One day he ... See full summary »
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Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship.
Vittorio De Sica
Irene Girard is an ambassador's wife and used to always live in luxury. After the dramatic death of her son, she feels guilty of having neglected him and feels compelled to help people in ... See full summary »
Edmund, a young boy who lives in war-devastated Germany after the Second World War has to do all kinds of work and tricks to help his family in getting food and barely survive. One day he meets a man who used to be one of his teachers in school and hopes to get support from him, but the ideas of this man do not lead Edmund in a clearer or safer way of living... Written by
Marvelous study of character and atmosphere, a neo-realistic triumph...
One of Roberto Rossellini's masterpieces, Germany Year Zero, suffers only from one minor liability, which is not totally the filmmaker's fault. The film was shot in German with the native language, but it was later shown around the world (at least I think around the world) in an Italian-dubbed print, which is also the version currently available on American DVD. True, Rossellini (as far as I know) didn't speak German, and he had it in Italian so he wouldn't have trouble getting the film distributed in his native land where he broke ground with Open City and Paisan. But it is a fair enough indication that not EVERYTHING in a film such as Germany Year Zero is based in total reality based on seeing this version. Once this is looked past though, one can get into the actual story and characters, which is what Rossellini is after- getting at least the emotional loss in this world perfectly clear.
Germany Year Zero - the third in a so-called trilogy of films that began with his breakthrough Open City and continued with Paisan - was brilliantly executed, in the quasi-documentary cinematography by Robert Juillard, the appropriately sorrowful score by Renzo Rossellini, and in the performances by first timers like Edmund Moeschke as Edmund Koeler (the main character), Ingetraude Hinze as Eva Koeler (Edmund's desperate sister), and Erich Guhne as Herr Enning (Edmund's ex-teacher who becomes a crucial supporting character). Edmund is a pre-teen who's lived through the devastation of the War, like his family, the families he lives with, and everyone else around him in the city, and he tries to get work despite his all-too-young age. Things seem bleak for his family, as his brother doesn't want to work for fear of being caught as a prisoner of the war, his elderly father can't work, and his sister goes out every night looking for things that only help herself. When Edmund runs into his once school-teacher (Enning), who is part of the cold, evil remnants of the Nazi regime, and this leads into the last act of the film, with startling, heart-breaking results.
While the story of Edmund- and of the line that scorches a kid's conscience between childhood innocence and the horrors of the real world- is a compelling and historically important one to tell, what Rossellini achieves here more than anything is the sense of dread in a desolate atmosphere. He achieved that in Open City too (I have yet to see Paisan so I can't comment), but that film had the tendency to take a little too much time involving us in sub-plots. In Germany Year Zero, however, the images presented stay with the viewer long after the film has ended since they're akin to the kind of sensibility Polanski had with The Pianist, in a technical sense- we're following someone in his own personal struggle for survival in an environment that's in rubble, with many of the people around the character without much hope. There's also the theme of sacrifice, like in the other two films in Rossellini's trilogy, and that plus a theme of a sort of helpless hope in human spirit, stays true through the seventy minutes of this film. Highly recommended (the language dubbing practically regardless).
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