Germania anno zero (Germany, Year Zero, 1947)


Berlin is destroyed. What used to be buildings are now piles of rubble. A voice-over tells the viewers that this movie is to be an objective presentation of the facts. This objectivity is destroyed when the voice gives the opinion that German children need to learn how to live and love again.

Twelve year-old Edmund seeks work but is refused since he is so young. Returning home, with centrally parted straight blond hair, suspenders and shorts, little Edmund looks like a perfect Aryan follower. At home, he is praised by his elderly father and sister for his efforts to help the family while they scold his older brother, an ex-Nazi soldier, for doing nothing. The next day, little Edmund runs into his old schoolteacher who takes him home. The teacher, starts caressing Edmund and gives him a job to do. Edmund followers his order and brings old records of Hitler's speeches to the bombed out Chancellorís building in order to sell records of Hitlerís speeches to British soldiers as souvenirs. Days later, when Edmundís sick father needs help, Edmund returns to his teacherís house expecting compassion and help for his father. Not to be bothered by his ex-pupil, the teacher echoes Hitlerís ideas on Social Darwinism, that only the strong should survive. Disappointed, Edmund visits his father in the hospital and is alarmed to find out that the doctors will be sending him home where he will surely become sick again. On the way out Edmund steals a bottle of medicine and hides it in his bedroom. When the elderly father returns home days later his return is like a black cloud over the family. He begins to criticize the older brother for not trying to work and criticizes Edmundís older sister for socializing with American soldiers. The family becomes more unhappy and Edmund decides that the best thing for his father and the family would be for his father to die. This way, the father would be happier in heaven and the family would be rid of its grief over him. After all, only the strong deserve to live.

Edmund offers his father a cup of hot tea and puts a deadly overdose of medicine in the cup. As Edmund helps his father drink, his father ironically praises him as being a great kid who really cares about his family. Overrun with guilt and confusion at his fatherís death, Edmund runs to his teacher for an explanation. When his teacher violently slaps him and calls him a little monster when he confesses, Edmund wanders the streets looking for acceptance. His loneliness is overwhelming when even the kids in the street refuse to play ball with him. Little Edmund plays by himself, seemingly unworried about the act of murder that he had committed. His isolation and desperation eventually overtake him as his conscience starts to signal his bad deed. Ashamed and alone, Edmund hurls his body off the top floor of a bombed out building while his family attend the fatherís funeral.

Film Credits