A Time Portal to Germany, May 1945

I have written a bit about the 5 Hollywood directors who went to the front lines both in the Pacific and ETO for WW2.

And I reviewed the work of one of them, William Wyler, with the brilliant restoration of his unused film in making his Memphis Belle. There is more to write about these 5 fascinating directors, but suffice it to say there is a nice Netflix documentary, with commentary by 5 contemporary famous directors, on them.

That has to be a future post for me.

In the meantime on the F/B page, Hogday posted a fascinating video from George Stevens on Germany right after the war.

While it’s history is not mentioned in YouTube, if it is what I think it is, its history is just as fascinating.  The war profoundly affected George Stevens. In addition to the camera work he and his assistants did for the war effort, he took his 16mm camera and made his own personal movies. That weren’t intended for anyone but his family and friends.

Which was pretty much forgotten postwar.

Until he died, and his son went through the attic and rediscovered the old reels.

And thanks to technology today, this video had some digital magic to the point that you think you are there.

Much of it is without sound.

But you will see the Trummerfrauen – rubble women – clearing the ruins in Berlin bucket by bucket. Meet the Soviets at Torgau on the Elbe. See Munich, Cologne and other cities as they were just starting to recover from the devastation. See the remains of Hitler’s house at Obersaltzburg in Bavaria. The Allies later dynamited it.

It looks like a German restoration, because the captions are in German.

If you can see it on your TV, it is even more spectacular.

It’s silence is powerful.

H/T to Hogday.

Click here


 

 

05-31-20 I have watched this 3-4 times and am astounded at what this shows. From the Berlin family living as normal in their 2nd story apartment with the wall blown out, visible to all the passerby’s. 

To the American officers walking up to the shell-pocked Reichskanzlei, and going into the back to see the empty pit with burned gas cans where the bodies of Hitler and his mistress, Eva Braun, were cremated. 

To see normal street scenes of Berlin days or weeks after the surrender, of the people getting on with life as best they could. To the little girl with a big smile as if she hadn’t a care in the world. 

The video was shot without sound – this was a 16mm hand held personal movie camera – but the restorers dubbed a few sounds in giving the film an eerie quality. 

It gave me a feeling not unlike my visit to Berlin and Dresden in 1992, to see what was the remnants of communism with its drabness being changed day by day. But of course seeing cities reduced to rubble was even more dramatic. 

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