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Die Brücke
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Bridge More at IMDbPro »Die Brücke (original title)

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Coming of Age Playing War

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
3 June 2010

A couple of days before the end of World War II, seven sixteen year-old German boys of a small village are recruited for military service. The idealistic 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) and Sigi Bernhard (Günther Hoffmann) join the army on 26 April 1945 with great expectations and enthusiasm to defend their motherland Germany in the front against the will of their parents. Their English teacher Stern (Wolfgang Stumpf) unsuccessfully tries to convince Commander Fröhlich (Heinz Spitzner) to refuse the enlistment of the youngsters. After one day training, the soldiers are summoned to the front but the Commander of the 463rd Battalion of the 3rd Company assigns Sergeant Heilmann (Günter Pfitzmann) to stay with the rookies "protecting" a useless bridge in their village in order to spare the boys. However, in the chaos of the imminent defeat with German soldiers fleeing from the American troops, Heilmann is murdered and the boys defend the small bridge with their lives on 27 April 1945.

"Die Brücke" is another powerful and impressive German film about coming of age in times or war. This anti-war movie probably reflects the thoughts of the brain-washed youngsters by the Nazi ideology and propaganda in the 40's and is heartbreaking to see sixteen year-old boys playing war like a game and without awareness of the seriousness of the situation. Being a father, it is also very sad to see the powerless widows and mothers trying to protect their enthusiastic sons that want to fight to defend their country. The realism of this dramatic movie is awesome and totally different from the approach of Hollywood movies, where Germans are usually evil soldiers and the situation of the civilian population is forgotten, but unfortunately it has not been released in Brazil on VHS or DVD. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): Not Available

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23 out of 34 people found the following review useful:


Author: jan onderwater from Amsterdam, The Netherlands
22 November 1999

Until recently I thought that the impact as "anti-war" film of Die Brücke was far greater than that of any other anti-war film. This was from memory, not having seen the film for over 15 years. Recent re-seeing of the film did not convince me entirely anymore, though it is still to be preferred to films like Stalingrad or Saving Private Ryan.

Situated within the German WW2 cinema of the 50's (starting with "08/15" to "Hunde wollt ihr ewig leben" of 1958) the film surely is an exception in its honesty and well-meant premise. But as Wicki said in interviews and what clearly is stressed in the film, not "war" itself is the subject, the propagandist influence on youth (and I say: from any regime/government for that matter) is the main subject. The influence of the older generation who believe in stupid ideals makes the youth stupid idealists. Wicki shows a number of precisely defined examples. The boy whose parents believe in Prussian (military) ideals: he believes what his father says.

All boys are military idealists even before they are drafted, indeed they can not wait to be drafted. As the film starts they are 16 years of age, but already they have undergone "Vormilitärische Erziehung" (pre-military education) in earlier years. Whether they have got this as member of the Hitler youth or otherwise is not clear, and may not be important. The fact is that from early youth on they are educated to be a soldier and thus can be employed as soldier from day one they are drafted. They are educated in the believe that all is well when done in the name of "Führer, Volk, Vaterland". Thus: not the young soldiers are to blame, but the parents, the older generation, the political system.

To wind up: this is the main "message" Wicki has to tell and he is good at it. War itself is never the main subject (and only takes about 1/3 of the film). Oh yes, he does show how horrible it can be in very impressive scenes. Wicki does show that war is not a game of "cowboys and indians" meant for boys of 16. But does he ever show that an offensive war is to be discarded at all? It seems to me that he only shows the ridiculousness of the last days of the war, when German HQ refused to give up and employed male youth as soldiers. I also wonder whether the film should have included the war scenes at all; would it not have been a stronger film if Wicki would have elaborated the 2/3 drama into a complete drama?

Wicki's direction of this his first feature is very good and in general he made a tight drama (and sad to say is still his only really good film). But the film is alas occasionally marred by some bad melodramatic acting by some of the young actors and also by some inappropriate (vis-a-vis the realism) melodramatic turns in the script. The reaction of Karl to the relationship of his father with Barbara is logic, but executed in a banal way. And whether an American soldier would be so kind to plea seize fire without carrying a weapon is very questionable; it probably should have been a dramatic turn, but it does not work at all.

Great cinematography by Gerd von Bonin who captures the right realistic atmosphere. Certainly the film is recommended viewing. One other unintended thing the film achieved was that after this one WW2 would not be a subject for the German cinema anymore for a long time. (7/10)

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Brutal and uncompromising; dramatically captures the sheer folly of war

Author: ackstasis from Australia
7 October 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bernhard Wicki's 'The Bridge (1959)' was a film that I'd never heard of before. Aside from an enthusiastic blurb on the VHS case, I hardly knew what it was about nor whether or not it was any good, having snatched it blindly from the library shelf. What I ended up watching was one of the most outstanding WWII films I'd ever seen, a harrowing, uncompromising tale of the futility of war and the tragic loss of childhood life and innocence. 'The Bridge' {German title: 'Die Brücke'} was based on Manfred Gregor's novel, inspired by his own experiences as a child at war, and adapted by Michael Mansfeld, Karl-Wilhelm Vivier and director Bernhard Wicki. It almost certainly drew a lot of inspiration from Lewis Milestone's Academy Award-winning 'All Quiet on the Western Front (1930),' with both films following the doomed fates of a group of young and idealistic German teenagers (though the latter, of course, is set during the First World War).

What impressed me most about 'The Bridge' is that it dedicated a lot of time towards the children's lives before being enlisted in the army. Though I did have a bit of trouble remembering which kid was which (my memory for names, especially foreign ones, is horrid), collectively, the audience really grows affectionate towards them. The quiet trivialities of their small-town existence (English classes, building boats, girls…) are contrasted strongly against the images of death and destruction that they will later witness. There was one particular scene that I thought was beyond all others. For some time, the seven boys have been working with their English teacher (Wolfgang Stumpf) to build a small boat. During the project, one child suddenly arrives, declaring ecstatically they they had all received their report-in orders from the military. As the children excitedly celebrate, we witness the look of pure devastation upon the teacher's face; he already knows that this is the last he'll see of his young and bright students.

The film is set in the closing months of World War Two, with Germany at its knees and waiting for defeat. Amid the boys' petty day-to-day difficulties, this doesn't seem to worry them at all, and they greet the approaching front with great anticipation. Following their first day in the army, the entire infantry force is ordered to march out and greet the forthcoming Allied army. It is an act of sheer desperation, and, in order to spare the newly-enlisted recruits, the seven boys are posted at a small concrete bridge just on the outskirts of their own town. This particular crossing is strategically insignificant, and the commanders plan to demolish it as soon as the Americans arrive, but the boys are not privy to this information. When, indeed, the Americans do reach the bridge in a trio of tanks, the seven young recruits launch a full offensive, a tragedy of misguided courage that results in the death of all but one.

Especially considering the year in which it was made, the battle sequences of 'The Bridge' are really quite graphic, and, if you think that Stanley Kubrick pulled no punches in 'Paths of Glory (1957),' you ain't seen nothing yet! One by one, the innocent sixteen-year-olds are cut down by the confused American soldiers. The young Germans put up an admirable fight considering the circumstances, but it's such a bitter waste of life that you can only feel disgust and anger that such a thing could be allowed to happen. In one particularly brutal scene, one of the inexperienced boys tries to fire a Panzerfaust (an anti-tank weapon), and the hapless elderly civilian behind him in struck in the face by the back-blast. The story ends without any sense of resolution, as the sole remaining recruit – after have shot his own officer in the back to prevent the all-important bridge from being demolished – retreats from the carnage, and the small insignificant structure diminishes into the mist.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

It taught me to respect human values even if they are considered enemies

Author: Metin Erdogmus from Istanbul, Turkey
6 April 2006

I have seen this movie in 1966, when I was still a student in the third class of high school and was preparing for the university. All I knew about the Second World War were the stories of great allied heroes saving the world from merciless German "beasts" who have no human feelings at all! This movie has changed my entire point of view and my feelings towards the people of the "enemy". From that moment on, I have learned to respect the people as humans with feelings, I hated ideologies which spoil the human values in people. By any standards, it deserves to be classified as one of the best war movies ever made. Considering the difficulties and limitations and shortages he faced during the making of this film, Bernhard Wicki, according to my opinion, has made the impossible.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The short WWII story of All Quiet on the Western Front

Author: Werner from Munich, Germany
25 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Being born in 61, this became quite some kind of a mandatory educational film for us youngsters in Germany, once we would reach the age of the boys portrayed here. It left an impression with me to date for sure. 90 min of education not waisted on me, like many others. It is kind of a short retelling of "All Quiet on Western Front", retold under the conditions of the last days of WWII in a small German City, where a understanding Commander puts the young boys, that are given to him for reinforcement, but are more of a burden, untrained and unfit, to 2nd line duty guarding a useless bridge, that is supposed to be blown up anyway. After their corporal is killed by the military police and they are left to themselves, they start a bloody battle against the advancing American Army, blowing up a tank and killing GIs in the useless battle, which is actually happening in their immediate neighborhood. And naturally, they get killed as well, leaving only 2 desperate survivors on their side. In a final blast of desperation, they even shoot and drive away the pioneers arriving to blow up the symbol of the useless fight. Most impressive : The GI being killed with his guts wrapping out after he yells to the "Kindergarten" to go home and the mortal bravery of the smallest boy, who will not hit the deck for an arriving Pursuit Fighter strafing him, after he was laughed a coward for ducking needlessly the first time. I don't know, if and where it would play today, but, if you get it, watch it.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of the best anti-war films ever.

Author: Alan Collins ( from Wellington, New Zealand
6 September 1999

If there is one thing I feel must be said, it is that this film is far superior to Saving Private Ryan. In fact I have a sneaking suspicion that Spielberg saw this film and copied ideas from it, especially the bridge battle at the end and the use of youth to generate sympathy. Not to turn this review intio an anti Saving Private Ryan rant, I very much feel that SPR was not an anti-war film, in fact it was pro-war, to fight and kill is all good when you are on the winning side and that your enemies will remain faceless or will come back and kill you if you do not kill them first. Whereas here we have 7 young boys drafted at the end of the war. Their belief and enthusiasm is cruelly abused by a twisted and doomed regime, in some pathetic hope to draw out the war for a bit longer. Yet they do not see this. The enemy is on German soil, yet they are willing to fight for final victory. We also see in the film how they are just boys growing up, sometimes hard enough in itself without a war going on. They are a mixture of real innocence and innocence trying to fill the role of men (since everyman over 16 is at the front). Despite the efforts of their teacher and their company C.O. to spare them death on the front , they are finally crushed not only by American tanks but their own idealism, and an uncaring military machine. Do not watch watch this film to see war and glory but to see the waste and perversion of war and perhaps the seldom told tale of the otherside.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Schoolboys defend a village bridge in falling Nazi Germany.

Author: Kalle Korpela from Helsinki, Finland
2 October 1998

1945 in the collapsing Nazi Germany, 15 year old schoolboys are appointed to the defence of their home town's village bridge.

In 105 minutes we are presented the entire war; the birth and self-suffocation of nationalistic fanaticism, the innocent ardour turned into shattered morality.

The plot carries through with a steady pace and the rhythm makes the piece very approachable -- even American. The scenes start from day-to-day lives and we are confronted with real people, with real human conflicts and real human worldviews. By the end, the drama of the plot is made very much second with your emotions towards the people on the screen.

Suddenly the reasons for the war seem clear. Shouldn't you have done that earlier, by now you stop hoping to find someone to blame.

A very heartening experience of absolute realism is created, crystallized in the sincerity of the boys' faces and emotions. There's such an unbroken fresh touch, and such vividity of characters and scenes, that every viewer should be made to esteem the German (and European) origin. This goes all the way. Should the boys speak English instead of German and the film be in color instead of black and white something very fine would be lost.

This makes Private Ryan want to go home to grow up. An enlightenment on the human nature and a shaking envisionment of history is guaranteed. Recommended as an introduction to European cinema.

My #1, too.


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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Imperfection can be gripping

Author: Ismaninb from Suriname
7 April 2007

Die Brücke was on Dutch or Belgian TV some 20 years ago, when I saw it. Like many others I was deeply impressed. There has been criticism on acting and directing. This criticism is correct. But it does not matter. What counts is the script. Only seldom I have seen a movie with a better script. Here a modified quote from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly applies: never seen wasted young lives so badly. With a fairly simple story Die Brücke makes mercilessly clear what war and National-Socialism is. I can understand, why nobody has the courage to do a remake. Perfection might lead to a lesser impact in this case. One can argue, that Paths of Glory and Hamburger Hill are better. Not a bad word about these two, but Die Brücke is emotionally the most gripping.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Quality German WWII movie about young, innocent people being cast into the meat grinder called war.

Author: daniken from Leiden, Netherlands
24 December 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Warning, spoilers.

This is one of those movies you find late at night just before you want to go to bed, just idly zapping through the channels on your TV-set, and then just get gripped by it and stay up two hours longer than you wanted to, because you'll regret not having seen the rest of it. It's the last days of WWII and Germany is being overrun by the allies from all sides. A group of boys (they aren't even teenagers yet) in a small german village are drafted for the Volkssturm, a last resort german people's army composed mostly of elderly men and young boys and teenagers. The movie follows them in their preparations for a war which, in their minds, still remains vague and far away. Their innocence and childlike manners are in macabre contrast to the death that awaits them, much sooner in fact than anyone of them expects. When their veteran Sergeant commands them to take up defensive positions at a bridge just outside their village it is supposed to be a practice run. But instead they are thrown into combat by the sudden advance of allied forces, and without any help from experienced soldiers these children now face American tanks, which will turn them either into men or put them in their graves...

Perhaps one of the very best and clear examples of what happens when innocent people are thrown into the midst of total war. Also a rare example of a quality German warmovie. Gripping and honest, no fancy heroism, good action scenes that stand up to the test of time, good acting, all in all a very good film. Highly recommended.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A true tragedy

Author: Ulrich Hartmann from Mulfingen, Germany
16 September 2002

We were shown this movie at school, so I always remembered it as a politically correct piece educational film - which it is, in a way. This is film with a clear purpose. It wants you to learn something. The amazing thing is that it is also a good film. Its message "War Is Bad" is brought across not so much by showing blood, death and destruction but by the means of classical tragedy: There are no "bad guys" in this film; on the contrary, most people try to do good, be humane. (E.g. the boys are told to guard the bridge in order to keep them away from the front.) But what they do results in disaster, because the evil is war itself.

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