Helmut Käutner – In jenen Tagen aka Seven Journeys (1947)

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Synopsis:

Told in seven chapters, Käutner’s first postwar film portrays the lives of average people overwhelmed and traumatized by the impact of fascism. Käutner uses the framing device of an automobile whose various owners serve as the film’s protagonists and initiate its episodic structure. The characters represent an interesting cross-section of the German people including a deserting soldier, a Jewish couple and a composer who has been labeled as subversive. During a time when most Germans wanted to forget the past, Käutner eschewed the controlled setting of the UFA studios and chose to film in the bombed out streets of Berlin, crafting a humanistic rendering of recent history. Continue reading

Kinji Fukasaku – Gunki hatameku motoni AKA Under the Flag of the Rising Sun (1972)

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User comment from IMDB: Author: ben morris (shiryuo) from Munich, Germany:

First of all I have to say that this film is really tough.

It’s a bit like Rashômon. A widow wants to find out the truth about her husband being apparent executed in the Second World War by Japanese soldiers.

But the administration isn’t ready to hand out the documents about his dead. So the woman (Hidari Sachiko) tries alone to find out what really happened, by questioning four survivors who knew her husband. And everybody tells a different story (that’s why I compare it with Rashômon, although they are set in different sceneries) and they have different opinions about the dead husband. The end turns out to be more horrible than any of you hard-boiled-audition-viewers might expect. Sorry, just kidding. Kinji Fukasaku does its best to disturb the audience. Compared with Battle Royale, Gunki hatameku motoni is much more real and in its way not entertaining at all, what Battle Royale certainly was. Continue reading

Ken Loach – Land and Freedom [+Extras] (1995)

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Review (Marcus Whitfield, Edinburgh University Film Society)
Ken Loach collaborates once again with Jim Allen, his partner for Days of Hope and
Hidden Agenda, on this moving story about the struggle between a group of young
political idealists fighting against the Franco regime during the Spanish Civil War. The
film received international acclaim not only for the outside perception of the British
writer and director but also for an undocumented part of Spanish history that dealt with
the ordinary men and women that took up the struggle. Continue reading

Lewis Milestone – All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

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All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues) is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers’ extreme physical and mental stress during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many of these soldiers upon returning home from the front.
The novel was first published in November and December 1928 in the German newspaper Vossische Zeitung and in book form in late January 1929. The book and its sequel, The Road Back, were among the books banned and burned in Nazi Germany. It sold 2.5 million copies in twenty-five languages in its first eighteen months in print.
In 1930, the book was adapted as an Oscar-winning film of the same name, directed by Lewis Milestone. Continue reading

Grigori Chukhrai – Ballada o soldate AKA Ballad of a Soldier (1959) – (DVD)

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Amazon.com:
Grigory Chukhraj’s poetic odyssey of an accidental hero on a six-day pass is a sentimental journey through the ideals of the Soviet state in World War II. Vladimir Ivashov is the fresh-faced signalman whose trip from the Russian front to visit his white-haired mother becomes a series of detours as he stops to help the loyal comrades, fellow soldiers, and salt-of-the-earth civilians (as well as a few shirkers and scoundrels) he meets along the way. On a transport train he even falls in love with a pretty young stowaway, a feisty blond girl-next-door on her way to visit a wounded boyfriend. Delicately photographed and gently paced, this deliriously romantic road movie is undeniably Soviet in its celebration of patriotism and collectivism, but Chukhraj transcends politics with delightfully vivid characters and a deft mix of comedy, melodrama, and romance. –Sean Axmaker Continue reading

Stanley Kubrick – Paths of Glory (1957)

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Quote:
In Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” war is viewed in terms of power. This mesmerizing, urgent film about a true episode in World War I combines the idea that class differences are more important than national differences with the cannon-fodder theory of war, the theory that soldiers are merely pawns in the hands of generals who play at war is if it were a game of chess. The result of this amazing film has been the emergence of one of the great talents in contemporary cinema, the master whose greatest work was yet to come. Continue reading