It's so easy to view "the other" as something disembodied, without substance, essentially non-human. That act makes it much easier to kill them, which is the ultimate aim of war: to kill the enemy, obligatorily labeled "the other."
One film that turns that attitude on its head is "The Bridge," the 1959 work by Austrian-born filmmaker Bernhard Wicki. Set near the end of World War II, "The Bridge" is a film about a group of young men — of boys, actually — who are recruited to defend their village from invading Allied troops.
As the Criterion Collection explains it, "This expressively shot, emotionally bruising drama dared to humanize young German soldiers at a historically tender moment, and proved influential for the coming generation of New German Cinema auteurs."
"The Bridge" is the debut offering in a new monthly film series at The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, which begins at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday and runs through May. Admission to the series, which will be presented by Shaun O’L. Higgins, a co-host of KSPS's Saturday Night Cinema.
Nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film (the award went to "Black Orpheus"), "The Bridge" was described by TV Guide this way: "Flawless first directing job from Wicki along with surprisingly good performances from no-name actors."
The rest of the film series schedule also features notable examples of late-20th century German cinema:
March 12: "Jacob the Liar" (1974, directed by Frank Beyer). Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.
April 9: "Beyond Silence" (1996, Caroline Link). Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.
May 14: "The Lives of Others" (2006, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck). Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film.
Among other reasons, besides the fact that he says he wanted to "showcase the work of less widely known directors," Higgins explained why he chose these specific four films.
"I like to honor the memory of directors, in particular, who transformed cinema in their time or culture, but whose names seldom arise in film talk these days," he said. "Bernhard Wicki is one of these, having inspired a generation of New German film directors, including (Werner) Herzog.
Click here for more information about the screening of "The Bridge."