Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mein Krieg: time and memory

The footage in this documentary will appeal to any History or WWII buff. The interviews with the old men, juxtaposed with moving images of their wartime youth, are a poignant meditation on time and memory.
Mein Krieg (1991)
Review/Film; Movies Shot By 6 Germans In the War


The documentary "Mein Krieg" ("My Private War") offers stunningly un-self-conscious World War II memories from six German veterans, each of whom took a home movie camera with him into the fray. As directed with chilling simplicity by Harriet Eder and Thomas Kufus, it presents both a compilation of eerie wartime scenes and a catalogue of the photographers' present-day attitudes toward their experience. "I wouldn't be talking about these things if my conscience weren't clear as crystal," one of them calmly declares.

The film makers have their own ideas about their interviewees' complicity, as demonstrated by the emphasis they place on that particular remark. But their approach is restrained as they allow each of these six veterans to reminisce about everything from the condition of their movie cameras (which are well maintained and have yielded high-quality home movies) to the indelible sights they have seen. "Here we're going into Warsaw, and this is a tour of the buildings destroyed in '39," one man says, casually describing his images of wholesale destruction.

Much of the material seen here has a peculiar gentleness, as German soldiers cook and exercise and smile for the cameras. (There do not appear to have been restrictions on what the soldiers could photograph, since the later part of the film also includes glimpses of mass graves and civilian casualties.) And some of it recalls the more calculated wartime images we are more used to seeing in connection with Allied troops. So pretty nurses beam at Nazi soldiers; the soldiers' faces betray both fear and determination; the troops are seen celebrating after they shoot down an enemy plane. They were, a photographer recalls about the plane's dead Russian pilot, "full of joy over having been able to destroy this hornet." ...

No comments:

Blog Archive