‘Germany has backtracked 1948 years. It’s now at naught – as if Christ weren’t born, since they wanted to kill Him again. Therefore, don’t seek traces of our civilization in this film. They’ve disappeared.’
Film opens with this foreword. Not the slightest sign of comedy lightens the pic. Having resolved to mirror a world which has lost every moral rule, producer-director-writer Roberto Rossellini has done it in an extremely objective, cold manner, turning out more document than documentary.
Film deals with terrifying doings. There are boys in it who kill their parents and then commit suicide. There are girls – but they’re prostitutes. There are school teachers – but they’re of perverted natures. All this, on the terrifying background of bombed-out Berlin, where phantom-like people are living as they can, one selling black market goods which he immediately steals again, another playing for the Allies’ enjoyment the record of one of Hitler’s speeches among the ruins of the Chancery.
Pic isn’t acted but ‘lived.’ Pro and non-pro cast play it with uniform sincerity. Edmund Meschke is the most impressive of the lot, delivering a poignant, believable portrayal as the young disgraced hero. Photography by Robert Julliard keeps a constant balance between location shootings and studio scenes.