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Pretty good documentary short

Author: Thomas ( from Berlin, Germany
6 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The title of this documentary is as spot-on as the contents. It is a 9-minute documentary in black-and-white from almost 55 years that chronicles the Berlin Wall. Tough plan to fit such a complex topic into so little time, but director Walter de Hoog succeeded I think. He brings facts and emotions and that is pretty much all one could ask for. Quite a shame he did not make any other films really as his approach is rock-solid. This one here is worth seeing for everybody with an interest in German history and those without it as well as they don't need to watch overlong feature films or documentaries on the subject. They can just go for this one and even get a specific story about the tragic case of Peter Fechter. I highly recommend checking this one out. Thumbs up.

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Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
12 August 2011

This is a propaganda film from the US Information Agency and is included with the DVD collection "Treasures from American Film Archives (2000)". When I say 'propaganda', I am not saying it's untrue or bad--but that the film is trying to sway your opinion in a political argument. In this case, the film is about the impact of the Berlin Wall on the people of this city. It illustrates not just the impact, but on ways the Berliners tried to overcome this divisive wall--and their spirit is inspiring as you see actual footage of folks escaping from the East to the West. It also shows the lengths to which the Soviet-backed government went to prevent these escapes--such as bricking in the windows of nearby buildings, razing buildings, using tear gas and mines and more.

As one of the other reviewers said, the film is not sensationalistic. It simply shows actual footage and narrates (in a rather subdued way) what is occurring. It's rather difficult to see all this without being affected--especially when you see footage of those killed trying to escape this prison-like city. As a result, it's very effective and makes its point quite well.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"We refuse to think that it will always be this way"

Author: ackstasis from Australia
29 September 2008

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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