THE LAST BRIDGE (1953) [Feature]

Austria/Yugoslavia (MIFF 1956 , Programme 9)

Compassionate statements on war and its
effect on the individual are rare in the contemporary cinema, but The Last Bridge tells of some of the realities with honesty and sincerity.

The film describes the adventures of a young German doctor, the Head Sister of a German reserve hospital in Yugoslavia during the Second World War. She falls in love with a sergeant in a German regiment engaged in fighting the Yugoslav partisans, but is abducted and finds herself a prisoner in the partisans' mountain headquarters. She is. ordered to attend the sick and wounded, and although reluctant, her humanitarian instincts slowly overcome her prejudices.

Her gradual, almost unconscious identification with her fortunes of the partisans is achieved with the passage of time. Volunteering to recover medical supplies dropped by parachute, she meets her lover, the German sergeant, and tried to make him understand her loyalty to the partisans.

When returning, she is struck by a stray bullet,but delivers the medical supplied and tells the partisan leader she must now return to her own people, but she dies in front of both armies.

The strength of the film lies in its plea for a wider humanity. Maria Schell's study of a woman torn by divided loyalties is moving, and the climax where she appears stranded on the bridge between two opposing forces, although perhaps contrived, can be accepted as a vlid symbol of our times.

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