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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Until today I hadn't seen "Die Brücke" for quite a few years. Today I was
even more impressed than ever before. As powerful as possible, the movie
shows how a carefree youth is ended in the cruellest way literally from one
minute to another. The black and white cinemtography creates an eerie, yet
laconic and realistic atmosphere.
The whole film is to be highly recommended but there is one sequence that
stands out (***SPOILERS AHEAD***): Trucks with hundreds of frightened,
wounded German soldiers pass the bridge. They desperately try to stay ahead
of the American tanks who follow them. You can tell from their faces what
they have experienced on the front. They just want the war to be over. Our
seven teen soldiers - fanatic and faithful as they have learned it in the
Hitler Youth - just can't understand what's going on. No one bothers about
them, so they are left for good on the bridge. And then they can hear the
tanks. For some minutes the tanks can only be heard, what creates an
One former comment criticized the "quiet life" in this town in the first half of the movie. I think this to be quite realistic. The town that is portrayed seems to have 10, maybe 20,000 inhabitants. Towns like this were not necessarily destroyed by bombs, even in 1945. In some rural areas, life went on day-by-day almost like in peace times.
A number of German teenage boys are recruited for the "Volkssturm" in the
final days of World War II.
Before they are just normal guys experiencing their first love or having a taste for adventure. This taste for adventure has been exploited by the regime who now tries to use their idealism for delaying the defeat of Germany. They boys think they will contribute to the "Endsieg".
A lieutenant who is like most other grown up persons in the film devoid of any enthusiasm makes a plan to secure them. But the "idealism" the Nazi regime has inculcated into them shatters his plans.
This film moves a generation of Germans growing up around 1960. I think its honors in demasking the Nazi regime among that generation can not be doubted. Therefore some flaws (some melodramatic scenes, mediocre acting by the boys) may be excused. (8/10)
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.
I caught this film last week on the History Channel and I was quite
mesmerized by it. In some ways it reminded me of a Mark Twain Novel (I
forget the name) about young boys, during the American Civil War, from the
South who form a regiment and march to meet the Yankee foe. They begin with
enthusiasm but as they get closer to the enemy the reality of what they are
doing and risking (their lives) sets in and they disband and go
Unfortunately, for these young German kids they can't go home since the bridge they are defending is in their village. The action is intense and the scenes are very graphic, considering when this film was made. Unlike most war films this movie makes war to be what it really is - filthy and loathsome.
I was extremely fortunate to find this for sale, and immediately purchased it when I heard it compared to the likes of All Quiet on the Western Front, by someone I trust to know so. And he was absolutely right. This shows, with the ferocity of few others, how battle can destroy people, lives, families. The chaos of it is depicted perfectly. Plot, and script in general, is marvelous. The story doesn't span a long period of time, but the impressions are strong nonetheless. There is an incredible level of detail, and in 100 minutes, this tells you an immense amount, more than you would normally expect in such little time. The sheer authenticity is amazing, and it is partially due to the fact that this was made about fifteen years after WWII ended, by Germans(you do get the most out of this if you know a lot about them, during the time it takes place), and in their country and native tongue. Things remained relatively fresh in the memories, and it's astounding that this could be made, with the wounds still open. We follow a group of kids, enrolling in Hitlerjugend. I won't reveal anything else. The production values leave nothing to be desired. Dialog is well-written and delivered with compelling sincerity. The acting is flawless, every single performance is powerful. Characters are credible and consistent. This has extraordinarily high realism. On that, I suppose one could complain about the early scenes(and their lack of tension), as at least one reviewer does, however, apart from that, it's invariably spot-on, both physically and psychologically speaking. Also, this has excellent suspense, intensity and drama. Effects in this are almost exclusively convincing. There is bloody violence and disturbing content in this. I recommend it to any fan of anti-war films. Find it if you can. 10/10
A group of young students are ordered to protect a strategically totally unimportant bridge at the end of the war. The initial euphoria changes suddenly to fright while the Allies are entering. Probably one of the essential and most important anti-war films ever. Wicki convincingly captured the atmosphere of the last war days, this constant indecision between fear and hope and forlornness. Especially well made are the psychological portrays of the boys, their every day life in school, at home, within the clique and the mixture of real dedication and adventure mentality which leaves them to look at the war partly as national duty and partly as a romantic game. But as soon as the war collides with the life of the boys, the contrast between those close-ups of round-eyed, innocent child's faces and the churned up mud of the battlefield, as well as the bookish discourses of "courage" and "cowardice" makes the absurdity of the war pretty damn clear. Indeed, war is a game, but harrowing, arousing and bitter which has lost all gaily playfulness.
This film show the hard way the men live on. I now from older man in my town this was really happen. There a places in this country where you can see the reality. Some time i spend my holiday for looking something.
It's hard to believe "Die Brucke" was made in 1959. I first saw it on TV many,many years ago as a teenager. I asked friends if they had seen it and the response was always "No". Years later I actually met someone who had seen it and held it in the same high regard. This movie is of a piece, in my view. It has no weaknesses that I'm aware of. Casting, cinematography, script etc. are all strong. Incredible! This film easily places in my "Top 10".
For those of you interested in trivia....This movie was filmed in the city of Cham located in Oberpfalz, Bavaria, West Germany about 30 miles from what was the Czech border at the time. I was born in Cham in 1960 after the movie was made, but my mother tells me she remembers being there for the filming of the movie. We lived about 20 meters from the river (Regen River) and the bridge was about 100 meters from our home. She also told me that for the filming of the movie, all the large trees along the river had to be cut down. The city's population has grown from about 10K to 20K since then. I know that this city actually did get bombed during the war, they are still finding live bombs buried underground at many construction sites within the city.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While this film is not exactly up there with the the greatest anti-war
films (such as "Fires on the Plain", 1959), it is exceptional and is an
important movie because it tells a story about the utter futility of
war--the type story that lacks heroism and is not likely to be
celebrated in film.
The movie is set in a small and insignificant Bavarian town during the last couple weeks of WWII in Europe. Teenage boys throughout town are excited--they know that they soon will be called up to join the military in the defense of their nation. Despite being 100% pointless since the war was all but lost (Hitler himself had committed suicide the week before), the boys are happy about the prospect of getting their limbs blown from their bodies, as like most teens they feel invulnerable. And frankly, this youthful exuberance is not just sad....but pretty darn annoying! However, this cockiness is short-lived when they actually join the ranks. And what brilliant job will they have that will save the Reich? They'll stay in their very own hometown and guard a completely insignificant bridge. The last half of the movie consists of the battle for this worthless turf--and the utter pointlessness of it all becomes apparent to all. The ending is particularly poignant.
The film has very good acting and writing and is a great film to show kids, as it dissuades them from the mystique that war is fun or glorious--it's just a lot of death and gore. The only negatives I can think of are very minor, such as the kids in the film are actually OLDER than many conscripted during the final weeks--many were as young as 12 or 13 and as old as their 70s! In this film, the kids are all supposed to be about 16. The other minor is that the Sherman tanks don't really look like Shermans but Sherman-like tanks. Still, this is so very, very minor it only is worth saying to crazy old retired history teachers like me!
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