2 Die Brücke-Bernhard Wicki

Die Brücke-Bernhard Wicki

I picked up Die Brücke in Stuttgart when on a break from Canstatter Volksfest and the film was a relevation.   The anti-war film to end all anti-war films.  The small Bavarian town is waiting expectantly for the war front to arrive on its door step with the more enterprising/cowardly hopping onto trains to make good their escape. 

Shot in black and white we get a real feel for the relative normality of daily life for a group of young Abitur students who ironically are working on English translation with a teacher who is clearly looking forward to the imminent outbreak of peace.

Parents are trying to encourage these young bloods to take refuge in the countryside with relationships just in case they get called up at the last moment-which of course is exactly what happens.  Call up papers are waiting for the young men when they arrive home and before we know it they are cleaning their weapons in their ill fitting uniforms, enthusiastic about defending their homeland.

SPOILER ALERT

The officer deploying the boy recruits think they are doing them a favour by dropping them off at the small, local bridge.   He goes back into town on an errand and meets an unfortunate end after being challenged by an over enthusiastic Nazi defender.   The boys, left to their own devices, spend the night on the bridge witnessing lorry loads of retreating German soldiers who entreat them to go home and not to attempt to become heroes.  

A strafing American fighter plane reduces by one their number as they stand on the bridge waiting for something to happen.  Before they have time to grieve they hear the terrifying grinding, screech of tank tracks for over a minute.   Taking shelter in their foxhole with an array of powerful weapons including a machine gun and a Panzerfaust, the young men proceed to demonstrate that unlike their elders they are prepared to be heroes to defend their Heimat.

The brutal, in military terms successful, defence of the bridge is of course futile.  The horror of the battle scene almost resembles newsreel  in its crisp black and white format.     A group of boys with their lives in front of them, with no need to get involved are cut down purposely.  

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