Monday, June 20, 2011
The Beast of Berlin
In this movie the Kaiser is really a beast! He is vicious and cruel to everyone, his own people too, and he wants to cause as much pain and suffering as possible. The hero of the movie is Macas, a blacksmith in Louvain who has to save his daughter from being ravaged by a German soldier when the Kaiser orders Belgium to be invaded. The country is brutalized and it makes the Kaiser very happy. But, since this is a movie for American audience, the action quickly moves on from "plucky little Belgium" to scenes that involve the United States. A British ocean liner, Lusitania, is sunk by a German submarine drowning lots of American women and children. The Kaiser is so happy he gives a medal to the U-boot captain for killing so many civilians but the captain feels bad and later kills himself. The United States goes to war and the Kaiser boasts that when Germany wins the war he will see America broken up and destroyed. There are many scenes of German atrocities but the American army soon comes to France to save the day.
The ending is most interesting to me. No one making this movie thought there would be such a thing as the armistice. They have Germany being totally crushed and invaded by the Allied armies who march in to occupy Berlin and take the Kaiser prisoner. The Allied leaders and generals all meet in the Kaiser's palace to decide how to punish the war criminal who is such a monster. You think they will kill him? I thought this movie would do that but, maybe they thought that would make them too much like the Kaiser so they all decide that it is only justice for King Albert I of the Belgians to be given the Kaiser to deal with since Belgium was the innocent country Germany first invaded. King Albert decided it will be fitting punishment to keep the Kaiser in prison and he appoints the blacksmith Macas from Louvain to be his guard, a representative of the people who most suffered and now the shoe is on the other foot for the cruel Kaiser. Almost everything there is not true of course. The Kaiser did not order atrocities and though the ocean liner was sunk the captain did not get a medal for sinking it and he did not kill himself, he died in action later in the war I think. We also know the war did not end with the Allies in Berlin but this is an unashamed openly propaganda film and it caused a great deal of anti-German hatred as you can imagine. The involvement of King Albert, of course, I found interesting.