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w-manshanden

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The Bridge (1959)
21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
still the best war movie ever, 22 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having read the comments on the film Die Brucke, I was very to glad to understand that some other people in the world recognize the high quality of it. I thought I was the only one. Other people also think that Spielberg has seen this movie; Saving Private Ryan is compiled of some other war movies, of which Die Brucke is one. Bernard Wicki succeeded in putting together many elements into one story, and that on a low budget basis. Thats brilliant. The contrast between individual and collective, personal relations and high commands, young idealism and adult realism, continuity (the river) and temporary (life and death), rationality and madness. I would especially point to a very important element. The use of the Hitler Jugend was not only a well-organised last attempt to turn the tide, but became also a myth in german society in 1945, and everybody in Germany interprets it in his/her own way. The young boys interpret this rumor in a very personal way: defend their own bridge! But, defending against who? The enemy, the Americans, have no myths in this movie. They are abstract. They have reconnaissance flights and small heavy armed patrols, acting on their own rational thinking, to secure bridges. These contrasting troops clash at the bridge. And what happens? On both sides, roughly the same amount of men die. The heavy armed Americans got to withdraw (!). But, in the end the german boy kills the german soldier who has to blow up the bridge. Who is the enemy here? The withdrawing American patrol, or the Wehrmacht? This is a brilliant moment in the movie. Due to the boys, the bridge remains intact, so the Americans have the advantage. Yes indeed, the boys defended their bridge against the Wehrmacht. Wicki learns us that myths will contribute to your own defeat. One should act on personal judgment, based on facts. When the American soldiers shouts: 'Kintergarten!' he is just one of the adults then, not a soldier.

From a story tellers point of view, switches like these makes the film really unique. And from a military point of view, the film is right and telling. And, one should speak German. Translation is very difficult. Language is very important in this movie.

I have also to say that Die Brucke and Das Boot are the best war movies. In both movies, it is shown that rational decisions by individuals conflicted with the myths and/or stupid commands from the leaders. Explaining defeat gives better movies than showing victory. Also, a good lesson to know in these days.