A group of German infantrymen of the First World War live out their lives in the trenches of France. They find brief entertainment and relief in a village behind the lines, but primarily ... See full summary »
Georg Wilhelm Pabst
Edwin, a taxi driver, lives with Annie, a neurasthenic model. They plan to spend Sunday at the Nikolassee beach with Wolfgang, an officer, gentleman, antiquarian, gigolo, at the moment a wine salesman. After an argument, Annie stays at home while Edwin joins Wolf. Wolf has brought along a new girlfriend, Christl. Brigitte, Christl's best friend, joins the group. Brigitte is the manager of a record shop. At the beach Wolf tries to kiss Christl but she rejects him and he turns his attentions toward Brigitte, who is more receptive. Wolf and Brigitte go off together and he seduces her. Back on the beach, Wolf and Erwin, now tired of their dates, flirt with two other women as Brigitte and Christl look on, appalled. They have small satisfaction when the men have to borrow money from them to pay for the paddle-boat they were renting. As they part at the end of the day, Brigitte hopes Wolf will see her next Sunday, but he and Erwin have other plans. The bond between the two men is the one ...Written by
Some of the people commenting on this movies mention the fact that it was made only three years before Hitler came to power. While this is true, it is a historical misunderstanding to think that in 1929, when the film was conceived and shot, Hitler was inevitably looming at the political horizon in Germany. In fact, in the Weimar republic of the late 20s there was good reason to believe, that the worst was over for Germany after the chaotic post-WWI-period. The economy had somewhat stabilized, the political circumstances were still chaotic, but I guess people had grown accustomed to the fact that the government changed every so often. Germany was not a democracy in the truest sense of the word, but there was a thriving lower-middle class, and that is what the people in the film are meant to represent. There was good reason to believe, that these people would be typical of Germany at this time. To think that the film makers were delusional about the true state of the German state is a judgement that comes out of knowing what happened later.
Thats what makes this film even more special in my thinking. It shows that there could have been potentially another Germany, and that fascism was not the inevitable consequence of the social condition in the early 30s, German national character or what so ever. In fact, I think thats why this master piece is not as well-known as it deserves to be. It does not fit the bill of 1920s Mabuse-style Germany, where Caligari was an early warning of the Nosferatu was the blue-print of a coming dictator etc, all this Kracauer stuff.
Having said that, I would like to point out two additional things about this film, that make it unique. First of all, with its on-location shot, its amateur actors and its next-to-nothing ,yet social realist story, it is a rare fore-runner of the post-war cinema of Italy etc, that has not acknowledged. (Then again, Rosselini et al never saw this film, but then again, where is the "neo" in "neo-realism" coming from.) It also seems to me that this might very likely be the first "indie" movie. "Indie" is of course a very vague term, and what is called "Independent cinema" differs greatly depending on where the critic is coming from. But I personally know of no other movie, that actually made it into the movie houses, that was produced by a handful of non-pros without the support of a studio. Of course, there are the surrealist films etc, but this was a reasonably successful film, not some art experiment. This is a very daring thesis, I know, but so far nobody was able to prove me wrong....
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