Murderers Among Us (1946) – Wolfgang Staudte

The Directory of DK Canada’s The Movie Book continues to provide exemplary titles, despite the fact that they didn’t make the cut for the main body of the text. And Murderers Among Us is a moody, brilliant watch that reminds us of the horrors of war, humanity, and the cost of terrible events.

A German film, the production value include stunning shots of the bombed out ruins and the rebuilding of the country following the events of World War II. It’s definitely interesting to see a German movie made this close to the end of the war dealing with this subject matter.

Susanne (Hildegard Knef) spent the war, and survived being, in a concentration camp. Now, she’s free, and has returned home, the bombed out remains of the city around her, as a constant reminder of the terrors she experienced.

She’s informed, when she returns to the building she lives in, that her apartment has a new resident, a depressed drunk, Hans Mertens (Wilhelm Borchert), a man who is attempting to survive his own horrors.

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He refuses to leave, and the two of them strike up a relationship, one that hints at romance, even as the two attempt to adjust to the horrors they’ve survived and committed. When Mertens learns that his former captain, Bruckner (Arno Paulsen) is also in town.

While Mertens served in the war, Bruckner ordered him, on Christmas Eve to kill innocent people, including women and children.

The two of them confront their demons and their pasts, even as they attempt to get on with their lives.

It’s a pretty heavy film, and despite the fact that it runs short of an hour and a half, it’s an engaging, and provocative film, made all the more so that it was German made at the close of the war.

Knef turns in a solid performance, but as we’ve learned over the years, the concentration camps were horrible, horrible places, akin to hell on Earth, and she seems in pretty healthy shape for just having been released from a camp. Still, both leads commit to their roles, and it’s a moody piece that definitely wows with its intention.

The Directory will continue to serve with my cinema education, and DK Books’ The Movie Book has given me some amazing films to expand my movie knowledge. There’s still time to pick one up before Christmas for that film buff on your list, and there is a lot of entertainment to be had in this book.

Or pick one up for yourself, and find something new to you to watch tonight, or perhaps revisit an old friend.

murderers

 

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