Monday 28 October 2013

Germany, Year Zero [1948]

Germany, Year Zero, the concluding chapter in Rossellini’s renowned ‘War Trilogy’, was possibly the bleakest of the lot, and that’s saying something given that neither Rome, Open City nor Paisan were remotely optimistic or uplifting. Despite its crisp length, it succeeded in painting a harrowing and disconsolate picture of the devastating social and human damage caused by WWII. Set in war ravaged Berlin, as opposed to Italy in the preceding 2 films, it focused on the last few days in the tragic life of mature-beyond-his-years 12-year old Edmund (Edmund Moeschke) and the kind of choices that the prevalent environs force him to make. Faced with unprecedented destitution, unemployment, uncertainty and crisis of essential items, he lives in a cramped and dingy room with his ailing but righteous father (Ernst Pittschau), his elder sister (Ingetraud Hinze) who is on the verge of becoming a streetwalker, and his elder brother (Franz Kruger), a former Nazi soldier who hides all the time in fear of prosecution, and wanders around the city in the hope of collecting whatever money and food he can without fear of law and social embarrassment. During one such sojourn he bumps into his former teacher, Nazi indoctrinator, currently black marketer and possible pedophile (Eric Guehne), who quite literally represents the netherworld, and that hastens his irrevocable downward spiral. Rossellini made haunting use of harsh documentary realism, amateur actors and such neorealist archetypes, as his young protagonist became an embodiment for the country’s economic plight, moral plunge, guilt, scarred existence, human corruption and lost innocence.

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Genre: Drama/War Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: German
Country: Italy

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