When we think of Nazi Germany we tend to think of mass assemblies, parades, and martial music on one hand, the Gestapo, repression, and death camps on the other. But how did the Nazis look at themselves? In Ein Schoner Tag, three German soldiers spend a day on leave in Berlin. One visits his wife and infant child, the other two romance young women. Although the men are in uniform much of the time, you would hardly know there's a war on. Every effort is made to show the home front as an oasis of peace, stability, and prosperity. One of the women, who works as a ticket taker on a street car, lives alone in a sumptuous apartment. The married soldier has a nice little house in the suburbs. Everyone goes about their business with amazing self-assurance. Of course, it couldn't have been like this, but surely the tired, war-weary people watching this film in theaters in Germany desperately wanted to think it was, or soon would be.
Shot in the summer of 1943, Ein Schoner Tag also provides a last look at old Berlin before it was destroyed by British and American air raids and Soviet artillery. Soon most of the buildings would be in ruins and thousands of people, including perhaps some of the cast members, would be dead.
Highly recommended both as a time capsule and as an example of Nazi propaganda.
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