Sog.: dal manoscritto di Leo de Laforgue Unter den Brücken von Paris. Scen.: Walter Ulbrich, Helmut Käutner. F.: Igor Oberberg. M.: Wolfgang Wehrum. Scgf.: Jupp Büttgen, Hans Ender, Anton Weber. Mus.: Bernhard Eichhorn. Int.: Hannelore Schroth (Anna Altmann), Carl Raddatz (Hendrik Feldkamp), Gustav Knuth (Willy), Ursula Grabley (Vera), Margarete Haagen (la governante), Hildegard Knef (ragazza di Havelberg), Walter Gross (uomo sul ponte), Hellmut Helsig (propietario del caffé Muhlke). Prod.: Walter Ulbrich per Ufa-Filmkunst. 5mm. D.: 98’. Bn.
The troubles surrounding Grosse Freiheit Nr. 7 didn’t stop Käutner from working. While the war was slowly reaching Berlin, he filmed a timeless tale about river barge sailors inside the city as well as in the surrounding areas – think Epstein or Vigo, albeit in a key closer to the neorealist idioms of De Santis or De Sica. The production history of Unter den Brücken – the traces which its shooting’s historical timing left in the film’s audiovisual fabric – made it into a prime piece of cinephile worship back home. For one thing, Käutner shot places in the capital (among others the old Jannowitzbrücke and the Schlütersteg-Brücke) that were bombed soon after – creating documents of a Berlin now gone. Also, he registered a few ruins from the first bombings in ’44, i.e. some of the earliest signs of the city’s coming annihilation. This, again, has to be seen in relation to some stories related about the period spent shooting outside the city, in the marshes and meadows between Oder and Havel, which, for the sound recording, had to be timed according to the Allied air raids on the capital… So, the Reich is blown to smithereens, and yet life goes on. Just as in Grosse Freiheit Nr. 7 there are those terribly complicatedly wonderful, exhilarating, devastating, enlivening matters of the heart, shown here as being once again more important than organized politics and more enduring than all oaths to flags and fatherlands. And exactly as in the earlier film, there’s a notion of the wide world outside: the harbors of Rotterdam are mentioned, and the seas beyond. Still, the love triangle is resolved here in a surprisingly different fashion: in a threesome defined as much by the love of the woman for one of the guys as by the friendship between the two guys. If Grosse Freiheit Nr. 7 was a film of the present, Unter den Brücken is a work for and about the future.