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Germany Year Zero(1948)

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Germany Year Zero(1948)

As in many neorealist films, Rossellini used mainly local, non-professional actors. He filmed on locations in Berlin and intended to convey the reality in Germany the year after its near total destruction in World War II. It contains dramatic images of bombed out Berlin and of the human struggle for survival following the destruction of Nazi Germany. When explaining his ideas about realism in an interview, he said, "realism is nothing other than the artistic form of truth."[3]

Twelve-year-old Edmund Köhler lives in devastated, Allied-occupied Berlin with his ailing, bedridden father and his adult siblings, Eva and Karl-Heinz. Eva manages to obtain cigarettes by going out with soldiers of the Allied forces, but she resists others' expectations to prostitute herself. Karl-Heinz is the older son who fought in the war and is a burden to the struggling family, refusing to register with the police and get a ration card because he is afraid of what would happen if they found out he fought to the bitter end. The Köhlers and others have been assigned to the apartment home of the Rademachers by the housing authority, much to Mr. Rademacher's irritation.

As was his usual custom, Rossellini cast the film with non-professionals that he met on the street. Rossellini found Ernst Pittschau sitting on the front steps of a retirement home and discovered that he had been a silent film actor forty years earlier. He saw former ballet dancer Ingetraud Hinze standing in a food line and was struck with the look of despair on her face. Franz-Otto Krüger came from a family of academics and had been imprisoned by the Gestapo during the war. Other smaller parts were cast with such people as a former Wehrmacht general, an ex-wrestler, a literature and art history professor, a model and a group of children that were bored of living on the streets.[7]

The final film in Rossellini's war film trilogy (the first two being Rome, Open City and Paisà). Germany Year Zero takes place in post-war Germany, unlike the others, which take place in German-occupied Rome and post-war Italy, respectively. The story follows a twelve-year-old boy, Edmund Kohler, who is mainly left to his own devices in order to survive and to help his family do the same.

Bresson would direct the exact equivalent of Rossellini's last neorealist war installment two decades later, but with a rural setting and a female lead, and it would be called Mouchette (1967). Powerful in its message, devastating in its implications, breathtaking in its hidden, underlying layers of controversial subject matter and undeniable poetry. Germany is in its year zero: a year of perdition, reconstruction and desperation. Rossellini, the master of immediate post-war neorealism.

Like in Paisan two years before, there was not a set screenplay and Rossellini had his actors improvise throughout all of shooting. Adding to the realism is that the Berliners walking past the camera generally ignored the presence of the rolling cameras. Given the divided Allied occupational zones of the city and the conditions that were present, the Berliners had other things on their mind rather than pander to the cameras as Angelenos, New Yorkers, Londoners, or Parisians might.

It tells the story of a young boy, Edmund, around 13 years old, living with his sick father, older sister and brother, in the ruins of Berlin at the end of the war. Many of the most striking shots in the film are those of the ruined city; the streets remarkably clean, but with the rubble swept into mounds along the edges, in front of the empty shells of the ruined buildings, as if it were snow after a particularly fierce blizzard. At one point a starving crowd gathers round a dead horse and start cutting off pieces of the meat to eat.

"Rediscovering Neorealism"GERMANY YEAR ZERO (1948)Screening of Roberto Rossellini's masterpiece, with Franz Kruger, Edmund Moeschke, B. Hintze.The concluding chapter of Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy is

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