Film Description: Directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and Aleksei Utkin in 1949, the film depicts a fictional German town divided by the river Elbe at the end of World War II. The film expertly uses this division of the town to drive home key ideological points. The U.S. soldiers are portrayed as constantly drunk, and their high command is shown as disinterested in the prospect of a true alliance between America and the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the Soviet troops are shown as truly concerned with not only rebuilding the physical infrastructure of the town under their control but also with rebuilding democracy in postwar Germany. In this way, the film provides justification for Soviet interference in neighboring satellite states, as it focuses on Soviet efforts at postwar reconstruction. It is interesting to note that in the film the Soviet Union is almost constantly referred to as Russia, and the soldiers as Russians. This ignores all the other nationalities who fought under the Soviet banner during the war, and provides evidence for the growing Russian nationalism during this time.
Scene 1: This scene shows a German crossing into the American side of the town. Earlier in the film we see a Soviet commander explaining to a child that the U.S.S.R.’s enemy was never the German people but fascism as he repairs the child’s bicycle. In the American section, we see drunken bar fights and race- and gender-based violence. The poster at the entrance to the “Night Club” reads: “Entry to the American Club is allowed for girls of any nationality. There are only two requirements: political reliability and the absence of venereal diseases.”
In this scene the Soviet Union commander parts with his American counterpart. Note the bridge between them literally dividing, leaving them on opposing sides.
Translation from Russian:
Soviet Commander: “Farewell. We met like allies, lived like neighbors..”
American officer: ” ..and part like friends.”
Soviet Commander: “Do everything so that in the future we do not meet like enemies! Remember, James, the friendship of the peoples of Russia and America is the most important question that humanity is facing now.”