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Berlin 1943/44 ("The Battle of Berlin"). Felice, an intelligent and courageous Jewish woman who lives under a false name, belongs to an underground organization. Lilly, a devoted mother of four, though an occasional unfaithful wife, is desperate for love. An unusual and passionate love between them blossoms despite the danger of persecution and nightly bombing raids. The Gestapo is on Felice's trail. Her friends flee, she decides to sit out the war with Lilly. One hot day in August 1944, the Gestapo is waiting in Lilly's flat... Written by
L.H. Wong <email@example.com>
This is a beautiful story and a haunting film, set in crumbling Berlin near the end of Germany's second run at world domination. Felice is a young stenographer hiding her Jewish identity and passing stealthily through bombed-out Berlin. She runs with a pack of party-girls, lesbians all, who butterfly their nights away living for the moment in the face of destruction, persecution, and death.
Lilly is a German housewife with four children and a husband on the Russian front. She is introduced, however, as a mistress to a Nazi officer, and the viewer sees immediately that Lilly is simply lost...dutifully serving out her role(s) to the men in her life, yet stricken with a suspicion that love has escaped her.
Then she meets Felice...
The affair transforms both women. Lilly finds love and discovers who she really is, while Felice finds a reason to stop running.
It's easy to forget that bravery in wartime is not reserved solely fo combat soldiers. In these two women, we see courage, hope, and beauty emerge from ruin and desperation. As one of the minor characters points out late in the film, love should be appreciated wherever it can take root---especially when times and situations seem impossibly chaotic.
This director offers an underlying gentleness that makes the movie all the more effective. The performances are passionate and inspired. War news via radio broadcasts is masterfully woven in to frame the film while giving the viewer a sense that time is running out in Berlin. One knock on the film might be that there are too few sympathetic male characters. But, given the setting, maybe that was to be expected.
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