The Bridge (1959)
July 12, 2018 5:49 PM - Subscribe

In 1945, Germany is being overrun, and nobody is left to fight but teenagers.

The Dissolve: The Bridge opens with a shot of a bomb falling near an unnamed German town, and almost hitting a small bridge. It’s a near-miss, but the war has already touched the town, which is now nearly devoid of adult men. Only women and children are left behind to keep it running in the last days of World War II. Soon their ranks will thin as well, but for the moment, the teenage boys are making the most of it, becoming almost giddy at the thought that the war they’ve grown up hearing about is drawing so close to home—and at the thought of fighting for the German cause they’ve grown up believing is just and right. On a map, they second-guess the strategies of their country’s military. One initiates a sweet romance with a classmate. A few others find a cache of liquor hidden down by the shore. When their draft notices come, it seems like the beginning of another chapter in their ongoing boyhood adventure.

Senses of Cinema: The war situations depicted in The Bridge thus expose the abuses of authority that make such tragedy possible: not only the government and military but also, and far more damning, the parents, teachers and community that instill and exploit a naive, and easily manipulated, idealism in the young. The boys’ parents not only allow but also encourage such reckless sacrifice, in the name of a nationalist cause in which they themselves fervently believe – but for which they aren’t the cannon fodder. Their misguided, and unwittingly selfish, choices are vividly dramatised as the boys vicariously pay the price for their parents’ own desires. The boys are victims not of a nebulous evil entity called “war”, but of their families’ and communities’ ignorant and misguided beliefs.

AV Club: Its last 45 minutes constitute a single sustained, relentlessly intense battle sequence, as the clueless septet valiantly tries to defend a structure that their own side wants destroyed. Much of the action takes place in the middle of the night (bleeding into the following morning), and Wicki’s choice to shoot in black-and-white highlights the eerie sense of isolation the boys feel, even though the bridge is one they know well, as they all live right nearby. (One of them even winds up taking a sniper position in their childhood treehouse.) There’s little doubt that things will go spectacularly badly, given the group’s immaturity, lack of training, and total ignorance about the true objective of their mission—in real life, only Dorfmeister survived, and only because he fled—but the details are riveting in their senseless absurdity. Which makes it all the more haunting when The Bridge concludes with a sadly stark eulogy: “This happened on April 27, 1945. It was so insignificant that it wasn’t mentioned in any military communiqué.”


'The Bridge' Shows a Forgotten Side of Nazi Germany's Final Days
posted by MoonOrb (2 comments total)
Aw man, this movie messed me up back when.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:26 PM on July 12, 2018

Yeah, was shown this in High School, for German language class by the way, not History or whatever. Man, that was dark.
posted by Naberius at 1:48 PM on July 13, 2018

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