Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Germany, Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 1948)

***½
Italy

The third and least sustained chapter in Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy. In his search for an elemental humanity in the crushed enemy, Rossellini discovered some striking locations and a fascinating social context but he failed to come across any half-competent actors. Whenever anyone speaks in this melodrama of Shakespearean aspirations, the illusion is wrecked - and this illusion is crucial to neo-realist story-telling. Still, the glimpses of post-War Berlin are galvanising and the film's finale, which unfolds in excruciatingly tense real time (and, thankfully, in silence), packs a punch.

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