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This review is from: Dresden [DVD]  (DVD)
The allied bombing of Germany is a touchy subject and perhaps 63 years on, not one to interest most film enthusiasts. But this is the sort of film that should be shown in all schools, especially British and US ones, to rid our societies of the self-righteous triumphalist and rose-tinted views of world war two, if only to show that the allies did not emerge smelling of roses. Roland Suso Richter's film is a brave attempt to tackle these issues head on.
As a military historian, I write magazine articles on the war and can see things from the German side. This is because I had an ethnic German mother and Latvian father who both served Hitler's Germany. Although I was born in the UK my first language is German and my upbringing was as much culturally German as British. Like many of the immediate post-war generation in Germany, I feel guilt for what my ancestors did.
I found the screenplay to be excellent, at times combining satire with pathos, and the more evil aspects of the Third Reich are cleverly woven into the film - the German nurse married to a Jew, both hoping the war will end soon, the corrupt Nazi Gauleiter and his officials long on rhetoric but short on integrity and political awareness as Germany slowly tips into the abyss, and the doctors who illegally trade morphine for tickets and passports to Switzerland for themselves and their families. The scenes of destruction and suffering make compelling viewing, and the use of British actors to play the RAF personnel and show their point of view makes for a balanced film, particularly the scene showing German civilians lynching enemy air-crew, something also done earlier both in France and the UK on occasions. The use of Britons to play the RAF personnel also avoids those irritating foreign accents.
The love affair between a shot down RAF bomber pilot and a German nurse who has to deal with his handiwork on a daily basis is, however, stretching things a wee bit too far. That said, a number of German women did risk the guillotine to help allied personnel escape, including Ditha Bruncel, whose story has recently emerged in a book written by her English nephew.
A number of things spoil the film from an historical point of view, but mostly only we anoraks will notice. The US daylight raid on Dresden is not portrayed, nor the accusation that US fighters strafed the survivors. In addition the wing markings on the British bombers are spurious - no white and yellow circles were ever used here - and the inappropriate use of combat footage of US bombers (especially of waist gunners that were never employed in Lancasters), and the attack at night by four German single-engined fighters when the hero is shot down. Comparativey few single engined night fighters were used in this role and the typical German night fighters were two-engined types. Both types always operated alone, whereas the film shows a flight of four Messerschmitt Bf 109Es in action, a type long obsolete by 1945. Finally the sub-titles are often poorly translated, using the irritating US spelling, and in places are absent altogether. Nonetheless it is a film to buy and show the children. We can only hope that a remake of the Dambusters will be as honest, and show life at the receiving end too. Don't put money on it though...
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Initial post: 23 Jan 2011 18:34:54 GMT
This is fiction and should be accepted as such - after all this time I will never understand that people are still trying to placate the effect of dictators and their followers - a bully is a bully at whatever level & any retaliation to alleviate the situation should be acceptable otherwise we are doomed - unfortunately to turn the other cheek leads to further heartache
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