Kirmes | Chicago Reader


A corpse is unearthed next to a fairground in a German village at the beginning of this 1960 film by Wolfgang Staudte; its origins are then revealed in a long flashback. The remains are those of a young soldier who deserted his unit in the final days of World War II after being forced to massacre civilians. The boy's own father is ambivalent about hiding him—Himmler has decreed death for those harboring deserters—while the townspeople respond to him variously, showing cowardice or courage. Staudte was renowned as a critic of postwar German complacency, and though his direction rambles a bit, his dissolve from the wartime burial scene to the carved pigs on a carnival merry-go-round in the film's present is an acid visual commentary on his countrymen's denial of their past. In German with subtitles. 104 min.


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