Archive of films The Bridge / Die Brücke

1959, 96 min

Section: World War II: 60 Years After
Year: 2005

In disbelief at the possibility of capitulation in April 1945, seven pupils at a school in a small German town decide with suicidal determination to defend a strategically worthless bridge. The intransigence in the depiction of the era and its characters, and the cathartic strength of the finale of this famous 1959 film far outdo similarly oriented films made today.


Of the seven pupils at a secondary school in a small German town who receive the longed-for call-up order to join the “Volkssturm”, not one believes in Germany’s inevitable capitulation in April 1945. In order to defend one of the town’s (strategically worthless) bridges, they invest all the fervour of their sixteen years into the mission, their romantic yearning for adventure, sacrifice and friendship - all wonderful things yet, at the very core, and with calculated precision, perverted by poisonous ideology. That this film - unlike so many supposedly “classic films” - still touches today’s viewer with the same force as it did during its first screening 45 years ago (the catharsis of the final scene is still shocking) cannot be explained by what would elsewhere be a common, well-prepared dose of pacifist thinking, but solely though Wicki’s natural sense of morality and humaneness - his petition is not incidental, and no viewer can thus remain indifferent to it.

About the director

Bernhard Wicki (1919, Sankt Pölten-2000, Munich)
As one of the best actors of his generation from the German-speaking region, he worked with a number of leading German and foreign directors, including Michelangelo Antonioni (The Night/La notte, 1960). His first work as a director was the "independently" made film Why Are They Against Us? (Warum sind sie gegen uns?, 1958), followed by his anti-war masterpiece The Bridge (Die Brücke, 1959), awarded a number of prizes. His subsequent works were war dramas interwoven with socio-psychological films: The Miracle of Malachias (Das Wunder von Malachias, 1960-61), The Longest Day (1961-62), The Visit (1963), Morituri (1965) and The False Weight (Das falsche Gewicht, 1971). Wicki´s last, most ambitious film was made in Prague after many year´s preparation, an adaptation of Joseph Roth´s novel Spider´s Web (Das Spinnennetz, 1989).


National Film Archive
Malešická 12, 130 00, Praha 3
Czech Republic

Goethe-Institut Prag
Masarykovo nábřeží 32, 110 00, Praha 1
Czech Republic
Tel: +420 221 962 233
Fax: +420 221 962 250

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: World War II: 60 Years After
Director: Bernhard Wicki
Screenplay: Michael Mansfeld, Karl-Wilhelm Vivier
Dir. of Photography: Gerd von Bonin
Music: Hans-Martin Majewski
Editor: Carl Otto Bartning
Producer: Hermann Schwerin
Production: Fono Film
Cast: Fritz Wepper, Volker Bohnet, Michael Hinz
Contact: National Film Archive, Goethe-Institut Prag


Briana Čechová

Film Institution Rep.


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