Module: Films and Politics
Essay question: 7 The “rubble films” are more concerned with the moral or spiritual crisis of their protagonists than they are with the political realities of post‐war Germany.’ Discuss with reference to EITHER Germany Year Zero OR The Murderers Are Among Us OR BOTH.
In the midst of the rubble and sordidness that was Germany after World War II, in particularly Berlin in 1945; a new kind of cinema was born, called Rubble Films. Rubble Films are post-World War II films, made between 1946 – 1949, that take the hollow wasteland of Berlin as mise-en-scene as a symbol of the defeated former German Nazi state.
Rubble films were born out of a moral necessity, since films during that time were supposed to educate and serve as moral guidance. Rubble films sought to confront Germans with their recent past showing the crimes that were committed in their names and to impart shared responsibility upon them. It is because of this implication that German directors' views when depicting post-war realities were compromised and they failed to provide a consistent and more credible portrayal of post war facts. Rentschler, E (2010) on his essay ‘The place of the Rubble in the Trummerfilm’ criticized the lack of objectivity of some directors when portraying Germans as victims, as those who were imprisoned in concentrations camps, while failing to confront Germans with their Nazi past. For which he stated:
‘Regardless of the genre format, Germans usually appears as victims or rescuers, rarely as perpetrators. Guilt belongs to parties responsible for the misery of average German citizens and the desperate post-war situation. Although Hitler is referred to on occasion, his name is never expressly mentioned in any of the Trummerfilme’ (Rentschler, E. 2010, p. 10)
Rubble films also disappointed, as they do not provide a more realistic overview of the post-war social political situation at that time, namely, the devastating loss of lives, the violent reprisals of the ally troops and the subsequent occupation of Berlin. However, Rubble films do serve as a source of information as ‘[they] did register the state of a shattered nation on a physical and psychological ruin that was Germany’. (Rentschler, E 2010, p.10).
This essay will seek evaluate as to what extend Rubble films, in particular Wolfgang Staudte’s Die Morder sind unter uns (1946) [The murderers are among us] addresses post-war realities through their protagonists, narratives, genre and metaphors depicted in the film.
Wolfgang Staudte’s Die Morder sind unter uns, is considered a key film in German filmography, as it was the first film of the Rubble film era. This film aimed to confront post-war Germany with its recent past, addressing the issues of guilt, the return to the city, as well as intending to provide some moral guidance and hope. Staudte depicted these themes with the use of heavy visual symbolism and evocative images, namely, the rubble itself, the Nuremberg poster ‘Das Schone Deutschland’ min [3:38] the statue of a woman with a baby min [3:54] from the focus on melancholy, guilt and the figurative use of light to reflect individual emotions is this sharp contrast of light and darkness that creates a pervasive sense of disorienting a harsh reality that reflects the fractured live of the war’s survivors. Staudte also on Die Morder sind unter uns juxtaposes the bleak austerity of realistic filmmaking emulating Roberto Rossellini Neo-realism with a rapid montage sequence, unusual camera angles, which are visually from the first scene.
Die Morder sind unter uns depicts the social realities after the war through its protagonist, Hans Mertens (Ernst Wilhelm Bochert), is a former army soldier and surgeon who served in occupied Poland. Mertens returned to his homeland as a broken man. The guilt and remorse do not let him move on from the past and he uses alcohol to conceal his indignation. On the other