The Murderers Are Among Us | Chicago Reader

The Murderers Are Among Us

In the pulverized ruins of Berlin, a concentration camp survivor returns to her damaged apartment to find a surgeon living there and moves in with him; he's haunted by a Christmas massacre of civilians ordered by the captain of his army unit, now an obnoxiously complacent factory owner. This 1946 film was the first postwar production in Germany, though its acknowledgment of war crimes was probably dictated by the occupying powers. As in American film noir of the period, director Wolfgang Staudte borrows heavily from the German expressionists, though the results can be choppy: dramatic contrasts between light and dark, extreme close-ups, and tilted camera angles that destabilize space, suggesting a moral vacuum. The film's visual symbolism can be heavy-handed, but many images are stunningly evocative, and the scene in which the doctor begins his own recovery by performing a tracheotomy on a dying girl is genuinely affecting. In German with subtitles. 85 min.

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