Die Mörder sind unter uns (1946)

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Die Mörder sind unter uns: Directed by Wolfgang Staudte. With Hildegard Knef, Elly Burgmer, Erna Sellmer, Hilde Adolphi. After returning from a concentration camp, Susanne finds an ex-soldier living in her apartment. Together the two try to move past their experiences during WWII.

“The opening scene conveys the filmu0026#39;s mood. A low-angle camera shot shows bombed-out buildings, rubble in the street, an abandoned war tank, a makeshift wooden cross stuck in the ground, and a middle age man walking alone toward the camera, as three children play amid the ruins. Thereu0026#39;s no dialogue, just jazzy, bouncy, upbeat piano music that contrasts sharply with the bleak Bu0026amp;W image.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSet in Berlin in 1945, the film tells the fictional story of a former surgeon, the man in the opening scene, whose name is Dr. Mertens (Ernst Borchert). Heu0026#39;s dispirited and cynical. He meets up with a young woman, played by Hildegard Knef. The two of them share an uninviting apartment, severely damaged in the recently ended war. Knefu0026#39;s character is attracted to the dejected surgeon. But heu0026#39;s too disheartened to care. The deaths of thousands of people in a war render a surgeonu0026#39;s job of saving one life rather meaningless, according to Dr. Mertens. As the plot moves along, he reunites with an older, prosperous industrialist, a man whose attitude about the war is curiously indifferent.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAll of the filmu0026#39;s photography was done in Berlin, right after the war. The destroyed buildings and brick rubble are a big part of the story, symbolic of human devastation. Bu0026amp;W, expressionistic cinematography is terrific, with stark shadows amid the ruins, human silhouettes against bleak, cracked walls.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eInteriors remind me of those in u0026quot;The Blue Angelu0026quot; (1930), dilapidated, dirty, cheap, drab, and very depressing. In u0026quot;The Murderers Are Among Usu0026quot;, background music is minimal. Most scenes lack music, and the story is more potent for it. Sound effects consist of squeaky doors, footsteps on wooden floors, and other realistic sounds. The filmu0026#39;s casting and acting are fine.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eHistorically significant as the first German film made in Germany following the end of WWII, u0026quot;The Murderers Are Among Usu0026quot; reminds us of the horrors of war. One scene near the end is unforgettable in its severity. Outside at night, with snow gently falling, arc lights create ghostly shadows. The surgeon stands alone amid the rubble, outside a damaged church where people inside are singing u0026quot;Silent Nightu0026quot;. Faces of the people are grim. What a bleak period in human history.”

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