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An historically-based film well worth seeing, Jan 8 2011
This remarkable film, which was released 60 years ago in early 1940,is very good. Any one interested in the historical background in order to understand what film-makers and the public of the time emotinally tried to cope with might find following comments of interest:
1.The artistic treatment of the story contents,by the famous British film director Sir Carol Reed (1900-1976),is unique. On the surface the film has the make-up of a comedy thriller,but he succeded to compress the actual political and military agression of Hitler against the people of Czechoslovakia in the years 1938 to 1940, into a film length of 90 minutes.
The film conveys strong emotions, such as fear, the will to resist brutality of German concetration camp guards, and a wonderful sense of cleverness in poking fun at German attitudes, at that time, of superiority, while being utterly stupid.
2.Time Lines 1933 -1940. To appreiate the opening scenes where Hitler is banging with his fist on the Map of the Czech Sudeten area, and the implied connection to British and French Politics of Apeasement toward NAZI Germany:
In 1933 Hitler came to Power.His political party, the NSDAP, had one primary foreign policy objective - Revision of the 1919 Versailles treaty, namely to conquest additional living space (Lebensraum) in order to gain land for German settlement.On March 12,1938 Austria was annexed. On May 30th 1938 Hitler issued directives to the German Army to destroy the state of Czechoslovakia.
September 29,1938 at the Munich Conference the British Prime Minister N.Chamberlin and the French Premier Daladier agreed to ceed the Sudeten German Area of Czechoslovakia to Germany. This area also contained a strong line of fortifications against Germany and the Czech Army consisted of 30 first line division with strong armoured units.
The Czech Government was ordered to accept the annexation by Germany. Britain and France had betrayed the sovereignity and the people of Czechoslovakia. On October 1-10, 1938 the German Army occupied the Sudeten area. This area had the most valuable industrial enterprises, the SKODA Corporation (Armaments, industrial products and automotive products).
The rest of CSSR was liquidated by German agression on March 15-16 1939.
The film, at the beginning makes excellent use of original German Newsreels of the actual military invasion of the territoy of the CSSR.
3.Psychological effect of the Phony War: This film was made and released in 1940 after the defeat of Poland, in the period known as the Phony War. This period ended on May 10,1940 when Germany attacked Holland,Belgium and France.(France was defeated in 43 days and surrendered to Germany on June 22,1940.)
If in the film the views of NAZI Germnay seem frivolous or even naive,it must be remembered that at that time the Horror of NAZI Germany was not yet widely known.
Hence,the trend in the film toward a comedy thriller can be assoiated with the mind-set "Chamberlain:Peace in our times" and the mindset of the Phony War period.