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103 minutes · 2012

Drama, War
In 1945, future filmmaker Konrad Wolf returned to his native Germany from the Soviet Union (where his family had emigrated when he was a child) as a lieutenant in the Russian Army; his experience would inspire two of his more respected films, I Was Nineteen (1968) and this 1977 drama about German POWs who join the Soviet ground forces in the final months of the war. Wolf's direction emphasizes the prosaic aspects of the soldiers' westward journey, like the endless walking and scavenging for food, but his script (cowritten with his frequent collaborator Wolfgang Kohlhaase) conveys a more poetic sensibility. Flashbacks to scenes of the soldiers' capture and internment often interrupt the present-tense war story, implying that nothing else in their lives will erase the indignity of that experience. In subtitled German and partially subtitled Russian.

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