Monday, March 7, 2011

Germany Year Zero

Roberto Rossellini, 70m, 1948

The opening credits include the following statement: "When ideologies distance themselves from Christian morality and piety, the very foundation of human life, they become criminal folly."

This timeless film is set in post WW2 Berlin, bombed and disfigured beyond recognition. The Americans have occupied the country and people live perched in the skeletal remains. Tenacious life is crawling out from the burrows. Trams resume . People wage a grim struggle in a period of shortages and inflation, as currency is replaced by barter. Hitler is already a distancing memory in the excruciating priorities of survival, even as  Nazi memorabilia fetches a modest price. A gramophone record of the late Fuehrer's speech plays shrill, ludicrous and ghostly in an abandoned ruin.

Like the previous film, this too starts and goes on laboriously till it reaches it's shattering climax. Rossellini reportedly said, only the climax, where the boy protagonist wanders in delirium in the hollowed out upper storeys of a building, interested him. Since this is a film worth watching, the plot details are better omitted. Rossellini is a passionate, humanistic and inspired film maker. This is one more heart rending portrayal of perilous childhood to place besides Ray, de Sica, Kiarostami and Tarkovsky.

Thanks are due to Nathanael Hood for introducing this director.


Nathanael Hood said...

This was a difficult film to watch.

I mean that in a good way.

From what I can tell you are really getting into this director!

S M Rana said...

True, I am gripped by cinema fever again, thanks to you! I should rather say thank you for introducing this great film maker! I don't know how many of his movies I am going to see, surely quite some!

Anonymous said...

So many directors (and movies), so little time. ;-)

S. M. Rana said...

Indeed the feast is lavish and one can but pick and choose!