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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

on 17 August 2017
Sublime cover
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on 13 July 2017
Bought for a gift
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on 13 May 2017
great film good service
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 June 2009
This was a really enjoyable romantic film - set mainly in Berlin at the end of the war. WW2 action buffs beware: only around 20 minutes of this film relates to war on the Eastern Front. However, do not let this put you off - as the film is a heart rending account of the love between a German soldier and the daughter of a Jewish teacher. A really moving film, lovingly made by a famous director.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 January 2016
Douglas Sirk left Germany for Hollywood, where most of his best-known melodramas were made, but in this film he returns - via painstakingly made sets of Hamburg in ruins - to the Germany of fourteen years before it was made, in the last year of the War. It is winter and Ernst Graber, fighting on the Russian front, is granted a three-week furlough, which he uses to go back to Hamburg to find his parents. The city has been heavily bombed and the house is a pile of rubble, sending him on a quest all over the city for any news of them. Staying in a barracks , he encounters all kinds of humorous japes going on, meets a girl and falls in love, marries her after a few days, meets an old schoolfriend who has worked his way up in the Nazi hierarchy ... The filming style has a marvellous richness of texture, mirroring the complex times, but the story itself has a striking simplicity, being based around this short period in Ernst's life, his whirlwind romance with Elizabeth against all the odds, and their surviving the bombs, air raid shelters and unnerving neighbours who might call the police if they step out of line in the slightest. It is in colour, but has a certain old-fashioned solidity that works very well. One scene is shot in a bombed museum with the statues and works of art standing damaged around the bed they have put together - it shows moments of light even in this very dark hour. It also mirrors a tree that serves as a central image to the film, half destroyed by a bomb blast, but with the remaining branches blooming.

The two leads are remarkable, John Gavin for his good looks and very believable code of honour, and Lieselotte Pulver for her humorous expression and perkiness, even though she is depressed throughout over the disappearance of her own father. It is scripted in such a way that you really have to feel for ordinary Germans trying to survive the War, also victims, in many cases, of the Nazi regime, but feeling they are going to be hated by everyone all over the world. It is a brave film for Sirk to have made not that long after the War, as some people might have felt at the time that showing any nice Germans and focusing exclusively on that nationality was not a good approach to the subject. However what it really shows is how decency will always prevail among a significant number of people; the fact that the actors are a mixture of German and American only serves to emphasise that we all share a common humanity, and that the Nazi period was an inexplicable aberration, even allowing for all the different economic and social factors. At the same time, Sirk has been true to his cinematic instincts and adapted them to a war film with remarkable results.
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on 19 July 2009
After "All Quiet on the Western Front", fans of Erich Maria Remarque, watched a movie called "A Time To Love and A Time To Die".

Based on the book with the same name, it is a love story set in last war years of World War II in Germany.

When others were drumming the Victor's side of things, this movie dared to look into German commoner's lives and their tragic fates.

This movie has nothing to do with pro and cons of German involvement and guilt about having unleashed the Storm.

It just deals with the lives of two selected young individuals, who witness at first hand what War is really all about.
Add a slight love story and tension caused by your own surroundings (Gestapo, SS, Propaganda machine, etc.), and you will see that this is far more than your common Drama.

Everyone can recognize him/herself in the two main characters.

It is a lesson of life versus death.

It tells you how destructive war can be, for those who are living it and have nothing to say about it.

The storms, or winds of war, are terrible companions, when they touch you personally.

This is the message this transliteration tries to convey, and may I say, rather successfully, despite the Hollywood cast included in it.

John Gavin plays the leading role, and for once, he is given a fair chance to prove that he was not just another "beau", but truly a full-bred actor who could incarnate a true-to-life character.

Liselotte Pulver, as his fiancee, bride-to-be, appears as a very young and very inexperienced girl, overwhelmed by this immense tide of war.

There is nothing romantic in all this, no pink dresses, no sweet lulls.
Just the harsh realities in war-torn Germany.
How to survive the bombings, how to survive the political police, and so on and so forth.

This is truly another Anti-War movie.
For those who understand what War is really all about.

As I started writing this, I had mentioned that it is finally being decently transferred onto DVD.

I did own an old PAL VHS tape of this movie, which was decent, but not satisfactory, considering that this movie had a very wide screen ratio.

Pan & Scan had marred the entire action and the desolated landscape scenes of this movie.
Now, on DVD, you get the best transfer ever.
It is in the correct 2.35:1 anamorphic aspect ratio, sports a conventional but full and crisp 2.0 Mono soundtrack and has been digitally restored in High Definition.

You also receive a second DVD with tons of extra material for your eye's delight.

Did I mention? It was directed by one of the masters of the genre: Douglas Sirk (Imitation of Life, Written on the Wind, Battle Hymn, etc.)
and the score is by the great master of spectacular film music himself, Miklos Rozsa.

I must insist on this. Get a copy before it's gone.
You won't regret it one bit.

It is part of our cultural heritage, and as such, it has to be collected.

This is film history.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 December 2012
This is a brilliant adaptation of a great novel written in 1954 by German writer Erich Maria Remarque (mostly known for his master piece "All quiet on the Western Front").

Except a mistake on my part "A time to love and a time to die" was the first big Hollywood production showing the World War II from German point of view, and even if Remarque was a declared anti-Nazi (he was a wanted man in the Third Reich and spend all the period of 1933-45 as a refugee in Switzerland), making this film in 1958 was a pretty courageous thing.

An important thing to know before watching this most excellent film is that IT IS NOT a war movie. The story happens of course integrally during World War II, in 1944, and yes, there are some scenes from Eastern Front at the beginning and at the end of the film, but other than one big artillery barrage falling on German soldiers no actual fighting is showed. German soldiers march a lot in the mud and talk a lot about war and life in general, but the only shots they fire are directed against defenseless Russian civilians they execute "just in case" if they are partisans...

This film describes mostly the story of one soldier, private Ernst Graeber (John Gavin), who in the spring of 1944 receives his first leave in two years. Most of the film describes the eventful three weeks he spends in the town where he was born. However, although not a big city, this place is now regularly raided by allied bombers, targeting local industries, but slowly flattening the whole town in the process. When looking for his parents, Graeber meets a girl, Elisabeth Kruse (extraordinary German actress Liselotte Pulver), whom he knew once when they were together in the same class in high school. They never were friends before and in fact they hardly ever spoke one to another when in school - but since then they both changed a lot and the world around them changed even more, and they are both terribly lonely... I will say no more here - you deserve to discover this beautiful film by yourself.

Now, even if there is no fighting, this film is very dramatic and really keeps the viewer on the edge, because life in Germany in 1944 is incredibly dangerous. Daily bomber raids are a constant element in everybody's life, to such a point that some soldiers actually shorten their leaves and go back to the Eastern Front(!) because there at least they can shoot back at those who try to kill them... But an even greater threat is the omnipresent shadow of the Gestapo. People must all the time watch carefully their language as every careless word can make a difference between living another day or being send to the concentration camp or simply executed...

This permanent state of fear at every moment of life (which affects even the Nazis themselves...) is possibly the strongest element of this film and it is a high achievement for a Hollywoodian production. Possibly the most terrifying moment of the film is a simple administrative visit in the Gestapo building, where a little, ugly and weird subaltern officer (played by Klaus Kinski in one of his first roles) just asks to fill some papers... Other than the quality of the original story this excellent description of the omnipresent fear was mostly made possible by the fact that the director, Douglas Sirk, who was half-Danish half-German, personally experienced between 1933 and 1937 life in the Third Reich (he escaped to USA in 1937 to save his Jewish wife from death). I do not think I ever saw any of Douglas Sirk's other films, but he certainly impressed me with this one...

Although the love story is very beautiful and Liselotte Pulver is a delight to watch, this is definitely not a "feel good" film. It is in fact a pretty terrifying thing to watch, as other than the peripeties of the heroes, what it shows is a society which put itself in such a tight corner of hell, that there is virtually no way out. And even if people begin to do the right things again, it may be already too late to save them from death - although maybe not from eternal damnation, as a certain professor Pohlmann (played by Erich Maria Remarque himself) suggests it to Graeber in their most important discussion...

Bottom line, this is an EXCELLENT film, to discover and watch absolutely and then to conserve preciously to watch it one day with your children (once they are big enough). I can not really say that I enjoyed it, but it certainly impressed me and made me think a lot.
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on 3 December 2015
Films by Douglas Sirk, with their subtle manipulations of surfaces, may not present themselves with the gravitas of, say, a Bergman or Herzog, but they are deadly serious -- and never more personally so than here. In A Time to Love and a Time to Die, Sirk, Danish born and German bred, films circumstances similar to those in which his son died. This is Sirk's penultimate film. In collaboration with cinematographer Russell Metty, he uses his long experience to make it one of his most visually striking. War may be turbulent, but among its fruits are static tableaux, rubble-ridden emptinesses, frozen landscapes within which the living move furtively, as if in nightmares that may all too soon dissolve into worse nightmares. (Even twelve years after the 1945 armistice, the film's producers had no problem finding desolate, bombed out locations.)

In such a death world is there any place for fictions such as morality, for games such as art? In such a world is love mere encumbrance? An expensive luxury? Scene by scene the film examines these and corollary questions from different angles (as a gem's facets describe different contiguous angles). The film as a whole is indeed greater than the sum of its angles, its facets. It glows from within with the fitful light of human empathy. Here is no tract against war; here is an actual demonstration of how the mindset of war devalues our humanity.

Because it portrays Germans not as types but as individuals (including Nazified individuals) A Time to Love and a TIme to Die was not warmly received after release. It waited fifty years for the respect it was due, respect provided by this superb edition.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 3 March 2016
A Time To Love And A Time To Die is one of a very small group of American films made during the 1950s, i.e. only very shortly after WWII itself, that explore the human side of the German experience of that epic conflict.

The only other similar film, in this particular respect, that I've seen thus far is Decision Before Dawn. The latter is a black and white movie, as much espionsge thriller as war film, set on the Western and Home Fronts, whereas A Time To Love is more melodrama and romance, is set on the Eastern and Home Fronts, and is in bright Technicolour.

Both depict decent young Germans as central characters, and both find these men back in Germany, struggling to reconcile their consciences with their roles in the war, and their relationships to the Fatherland and it's peoples.

This film is based on a book of the same name by German author Erich Maria Remarcque (of All Quiet On The Western Front fame*), and director Douglas Sirk was himself also of German extraction, so it has a personal resonance for two of the key figures behind it.

Despite their roles in the making of the film, which one hopes bring some authenticity to it, I found the choice of male lead, Frank Gavin, who plays German soldier Ernst Graeber, rather problematic. Decision Before Dawn's Oscar Werner was both actually German, and an excellent actor, making for a very convincing character, whereas I found Gavin too hammy and all-American to be very plausible. I was more than half expecting him to blurt out, 'Gee, ain't the Fatherland swell, baby!' at some point.

Having said this, both films explore in different ways the moral compromises and complexities facing basically decent young men fighting on behalf of a toxic ideology. In Sirk's movie this theme ought perhaps to feel even more central, inasmuch as the film starts and ends in that infernal crucible of the Nazi quest for 'lebensraum' (a horrifically ironic misnomer, as it transpired, in that it was always more charnel-house than living space), the Eastern or Russian Front.

It's really only the poignancy of this thread that prevents this film from being somewhat cornball, thanks to the rather hammy home-front roles of several chief actors, including Gavin himself, female lead and love-interest, Lisalotte Pulver, a Swiss actress who was at least a star of German cinema of that era.

Amidst the ruins of the German homeland we see how civilians cope or go under, and the paranoia of the regime is evoked (the nosey conformist 'house-frau' is suitably repellent). We even meet a Jew in hiding, who's temporarily sheltered by Professor Pohl (played by Erich Maria Remarque, no less!), whose conscientious behaviour has predictable results.

The ending is sad but predictable, and whilst it helps make one of the films central points, about the senseless waste of war (another thing it has in common with Decision Before Dawn), it still feels less convincing or weighty than perhaps it wants to.

When the credits rolled I must confess I felt somewhat disappointed by this film, especially as it's packaged and marketed by Eureka as part of their Masters of Cinema line, and would have given it just three stars. However, in the course of writing this review I begin to think that, whilst Sirk's melodramatic style and the Yankee-doodle feel of some of the acting seem at odds with the subject, it is an interesting if uneven film, and worth watching.

* As a result this film was sometimes referred to as All Quiet On The Eastern Front! In addition to the author making a cameo, it's interesting that Klaus Kinski also has cameos in both Decision Before Dawn and this film.
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on 1 March 2010
I was delighted by this film on so many levels. I certainly don't posses the ability to describe just how good it is at this present time.

The camera panning past the group of Soldaten, sitting and lying dejectedly against a ruined outbuilding somewhere in the depths of the Ostfront, brilliant.
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