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The Wall (1962)

Unrated | | Documentary, Short
A propaganda film describing the evils of the Berlin Wall.




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Complete credited cast:
Peter Fechter ...
Himself (archive footage)


A propaganda film describing the evils of the Berlin Wall.

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Documentary | Short






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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of the 50 films in the 4-disk boxed DVD set called "Treasures from American Film Archives (2000)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 18 American film archives. This film was preserved by the National Archives and Records Administration. Because it was a propaganda film, it could not be shown in the United States until the cold war ended. See more »

Crazy Credits

Peter Fechter is orally credited by the narrator. There are otherwise no credits on the film except for the title at the beginning and the "The End" credit at the close of the film. See more »

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User Reviews

"We refuse to think that it will always be this way"
29 September 2008 | by See all my reviews

The United States Information Agency (USIA) was formed in 1953 to inform and influence foreign ambassadors in the interests of US policies. This propaganda short film, 'The Wall (1962),' was made to explain the evils of the Berlin Wall, one year after its erection in June, 1961 {during the filming of Billy Wilder's 'One, Two, Three (1961),' interestingly enough}. In accordance with US policy, it remained unseen in America for decades, to prevent the federal government from potentially propagandising its own citizens. Even so, this film doesn't feel too much like propaganda – at least, it doesn't blatantly leap for the enemy's throat like countless WWII propaganda documentaries I've seen. There is certainly an underlying message that Communists are bad, but it's told through the eyes of ordinary, everyday citizens living in West Berlin, making it seem more like a personal diary than a political film. Director Walter de Hoog compiled the film from American and German newsreels, and some of the documentary footage is confronting in its directness and detachedness.

For the most part – excepting the opening, when a group of children dramatically lose their soccer ball over the Wall – de Hoog resists the temptation to sensationalise events, allowing the simple images of totalitarianism, anguish and bloodshed to tell the story. Alexander Scourby narrates the story as a West Berlin citizen, estranged from his family but still able to communicate with them, however riskily, through hand signals. The film paints West Berlin as a cohesive city of weary battlers, engaged in the common goal of defeating the foul scourge of Communism. It really is frightening to watch East Berlin escapees dangling precariously from building windows, a desperate bid for freedom. One woman, dashing through a tangle of barbed wire, forgets to duck at the crucial moment, and painfully cops a barb of metal to her face. Of course, most saddening of all is the death of Peter Fechter, an 18-year-old man who was shot in the pelvis as he tried to scale the Wall, and was left to bleed to death. Fortunately, on November 9, 1989, all this became history.

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