What a film to drop on 1948! I was surprised to hear it got a so-so reception. Yes, it makes its points through unnecessary contrivances, as does most of neo-realism. But the haunted face of the young boy, the simultaneous ambiguity and clarity of Nazi Germany's defeated citizens, and most of all the restless camerawork—always circling—were ahead of their time. A raw cry to hold onto life, no matter the circumstance.
Reality is often more harrowing than any post-apocalyptic fantasy you can dream up. As a depiction of hell on earth (the only hell there is), there is few films that capture the horror of a society destroyed. When life is degraded to this level, our most animalistic tendencies will shine through.
There's not enough time or strength in the scenes, there's no emotion on Rossellinni's camera, and most of the time its the music that transmits the dramatic force. The only thing that really works in this movie is the relation of the characters with the space: the mass destruction of Berlin is really impressive, but it doesn't prevent the film from being a complete bore with a predictable and over the top finale.
Now I see. Now I see what Andre Bazin was talking about. I do not just understand. I feel it in my guts. How fresh images for the thought. How can this film speak to me as from yesterday? What has happened to a world where the sight of a handle instantly give a boy associations to a weapon, a gun? These are questions I can't answer. But I can keep them like a flame, as a living image, in my thought.
A horse's corpse is chopped by a mob in the streets of Berlin; an enveloping ruinscape is the scenery of a precise moment in time defined by the inexistence of a moral centre; everything has to be rebuilt, even purpose and ideology. The voice of Hitler echoes amidst the rubble, like that of a ghost. Long travellings follow Edmond's intermitent behavior: suicide and play blend as a continuum of childlike weariness.
pretty incredible. edmund, a personification of post-war germany's struggling dichotomy in identity, simultaneously a product of nazi germany and their loss, reflects a society's inability to reconcile its sordid past and its uncertain future. heartbreaking to witness this allegory through the haunting travels of a child in the backdrop of a destroyed berlin to punctuate this turmoil.