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A German man's choir of 8 persons is on a vacation in Yugoslavia. Most are middle-aged previous Nazis. They arrive at a village populated solely by women who avoid contact. 20 years earlier the Germans murdered all males. The choir tries to cheer up the mood by a German song, but then avoidance is replaced by hostility. When asking to buy bread they are referred to a woman who gives them a box with 437 empty cartridges, the remnants of the murders. By "Yugoslavian for tourists" a young boy makes contact with a woman who became mentally ill then. She misunderstands his words so that she will get her son back if she will bake bread. Meanwhile the men steal and slaughter a pig. Then the women throw their car down a mountain-side. On the next day the choir and the women reconcile. A priest from a nearby village finds a car they may borrow for one day. Since their own car is insured they do not report the women. When they leave, the mentally ill woman runs after to give them the bread she ... Written by
Max Scharnberg, Stockholm, Sweden
Surprised that no one has written a review so far! I saw the film on TV some 30+ years ago and I always looked forward to see it again. Now the Austrian Filmmuseum gave me this opportunity.
Such a great story: No 20 years after the end of WWII a German men's choir (eight choir members and the son of their leader) ends his holidays somewhere on the coast of Yugoslavia and drives home. Detoured they take a wrong turn and end in a small village in the mountains. Out of gas and without food they try to get help.
The villagers are all women except for one elderly man. It turns out that during the war Deutsche Wehrmacht-soldiers had revenged the killing of one of their own by killing 50 people from this village, all men and some women and children too. No wonder no one wants to help or even speak to them. One of these widows is leading their actions. Meanwhile a priest shows up who gives the Germans the first hints. He promises to get gas delivered to the village but later we see that the information gets lost.
At the beginning the Germans act very naive, soon they understand the situation but still hope to get help once they behave humble. When this doesn't work they get angry and break into a former pub which aggravates the women even more.
By and by we learn that not all of the Germans were as innocent as they want to appear and some had quite questionable ranks and duties in the war. Talking about their situation they more and more use military terms to explain their plans and thoughts.
The only young German in the group gets friendly with the only child of the village, a small girl, both representing a generation who either didn't do bad or hasn't lived through the horrors of war. The situation gets out of hand when the Germans slaughter a sheep and roast it to which the women react by pushing their bus over a cliff.
A young woman who worked at the coast returns just in time to reason with the women to end this war. She helps the Germans to escape over a narrow path to get to the next highway, but this is not the end yet.
Perfectly cast on either side this film shows one of the many things Germans and Austrians tried to forget when the war was over and normality returned and traveling to neighboring countries seemed to be an innocent thing.
Most actors are little known except for two, Götz George, who played the young German and later became a big star in TV and film, and Rudolf Platte, who played the conductor, mostly known for comical roles but every now and then proved that he could play dramatic parts to the point. The Yugoslavian actresses and actors are equally convincing and drive the message home. No surprise this film was heavily criticized in Germany. Director Wolfgang Staudte was always the bad conscious of the country and this was his last film, he only worked for TV after wards.
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