Saskatoon is slightly warming as the week proceeds. I’m reluctant to say this is directly attributable to the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival but after a surprisingly strong Day 2, I see no other credible explanation for it. Including the What the Hell! – Totally Messed Up Short Films block, Day 2 offered 16 different works for consideration, injecting a heavy dose of bizarro randomness into the Festival and creating a decidedly different tone from the previous day’s atmospheric horror extravaganza.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Last Bridge.
Helmut Käutner’s stark, realist World War II drama The Last Bridge is an exceptional anti-war statement and a significant treatise on our shared humanity. Maria Schell portrays Helga, a German doctor working as a nurse in a line hospital in Yugoslavia who is captured by partisan guerrillas and forced to care for their wounded and protect them from a typhus outbreak. Torn between her national loyalties and her Hippocratic Oath, Helga struggles in the face of the suffering around her, leading to one of cinema’s most profound and tragic conclusions. Widely acclaimed at its release, winning the International Jury Prize, a Special Prize for Schell’s performance, and the International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisual’s prize at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival, The Last Bridge is a poignant articulation of war’s folly and compassion’s value.
- New digital master, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- Audio commentary by German film scholar Eric Rentschler
- Maria Schell: Smiling Through Tears, a new 45-minute video on actress Maria Schell
- Schell’s 1959 appearance on What’s My Line?
- New and improved English subtitle translation
- Plus: A booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Christoph Huber and Philip Kemp