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The Stranger

February 3, 2009

Videovista have My Review of Orson Welles’ The Stranger (1946).

As I mention in the review, the real meat of The Stranger is its take on German war guilt.  There are many films dealing with this issue, but I’d be genuiely interested to know if there are any films that take a harder line on it than The Stranger.  Apparently, while Welles himself stopped short of claiming that the only solution to the ‘German Problem’ was eradication, he did express serious misgivings about the idea that Germany could ever be rehabilitated by the means of social programmes.

It is interesting to watch The Stranger now because Germany itself seems to be going through a phase of cinematic introspection.  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (2006) tried to humanise East German bureaucracy by presenting it as a system characterised by very real human fears and emotions, Dennis Gansell’s Die Welle (2008) suggested that Fascism could just as easily appear now as it did in the 1930s and Uli Edel’s Der Baader Meinhoff Komplex (2008) treats with significant sympathy the idea that, had it not been for left-leaning terrorists, Germany might well have returned to Fascism in the 1970s.

My view is that Welles is almost correct.  The Germans do secretly long to march beneath the banners of the Teutonic Knights, but then, so does every human being.  Everyone wants ther opinions to be made law.  Everyone wishes that their opponents would just ‘go away’.

3 Comments
  1. February 4, 2009 4:42 pm

    I wasn’t even aware of this film, it sounds tremendous (and I say that as a man who isn’t a huge fan of Citizen Kane).

    On Citizen Kane, on a largely unrelated note, I watched Stagecoach the other night. 1939, John Ford. It’s said that before making Citizen Kane Welles watched Stagecoach 40 times, to my discredit I found myself thinking he should have watched it 41. But I digress…

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  2. February 4, 2009 5:08 pm

    It really is an excellent film.

    I’m not a huge fan of the post-WWII spy idiom and so the main plot left me slightly cold, but as an articulation of a certain attitude towards the Holocaust, the film is fascinating.

    If you enjoyed The 39 Steps more than I did then chances are you’ll like this even more.

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  3. February 4, 2009 5:43 pm

    I’m easy on The 39 Steps, but I’ve not seen it in a long time I have to admit. That’s Hitchcock isn’t it? I’m easy on Hitchcock generally.

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