Baky finished the original version of the film in March, 1944, but the propaganda ministry required him to redo the ending. The censor accepted the film in March 1945, but changed his mind ten days later. Despite this fact, it premiered in Mayrhofen on April 7, 1945, where it had been filmed. Naturally all of the extras from the region were pleased to see it. Its official premiere was delayed until Jan. 16, 1948, in East Berlin. See more »
The story is of a sadistic and drunkard owner of a saw mill. All his family members toil, and the money earned is used by him to buy his liquor. In case there is any hindrance in it, the culprit is beaten mercilessly. The worker of the mill, Jory had been crippled. When his son, Niklaus, falls down in bringing his supply in a storm, and breaks the bottle, despite his injury, he isn't spared either. The only one who is still having some feeling towards him is his eldest daughter, Silvelie, even though he had 'given' to the inn keeper for his uninterrupted supply of liquor.
The inn-keeper has weakness towards her, and after Niklaus had been beaten, he refuses to supply any more after promising to Silvelie. Guessing the reason, the father barges in Silvelie's room and beats her up. He goes out, and disappears - presumed dead, and suspected murdered.
Who has murdered, no one knows, but each family member suspects someone from the family and hence decide to stick together - to protect him/ her.
A new magistrate arrives, and he falls in love with Silvelie and marries her (despite her misgivings) and then comes across the mysterious disappearance, and then Silvelie confesses that she had murdered. Now it is on the judge to find whether she did or she, as he suspected, was protecting some one, especially now, that she has assumed that his love is lost, and hence confessed.
This wasn't much of a mystery drama - since almost by the time of murder, one could guess the murderer. Of course there could have been another few possibilities, but that was depending on who was to be the first, as one of the character said - "we all had killed him many times in our mind, who really did, does it matter ?"
This had a good study (well enacted too) of the family, sticking together, to protect one of them, the murderer. No one is sure of the identity, each suspects, or should I say, sure of the person, but that person - Mother, Niklaus, Kuni, Jory,... is protected by the suspecting person, just since he/she is too sure of it. Naturally all are at the edge of the tether.
One major weakness in the movie was Andreas behavior with his wife, Silvelie. He couldn't have been so much of an idiot to believe her guilty despite her confession. He did say that she was protecting some one, but then he shouldn't have exposed her to emotional torture - in fact that's what probably made her to confess in the first place. She was the only one above suspicion, with irrefutable alibi - not only physically, but medically too, she had been moments back beaten black-and blue, and probably was under doctor's care through the night.
The audience didn't suspect her, the husband should have even less - and if he wanted to bring out a real culprit - by projecting her as the criminal - you can't make a guinea-pig of one you are going to spend your life with - no one does.
But that is a small technical point. Since there wasn't much of a suspense in identification, this too didn't matter. What really mattered was the family dynamics, and it scored very well there, and even here Silvelie's confession was to save whom she suspected (mother).
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