A Time to Love and A Time to Die (Douglas Sirk, 1958)
It was the first time in 1958 that an American film presented the Second World War from the German side. Well, it took an immigrated German director, Douglas Sirk to get the nerves to produce and direct a film only fourteen years after the events of the film took place.
It was also the first time that German soldiers were represented as human as the different characters of this film. Without the uniforms it could be any army or any country. This is one of the strenght of the film. We can understand universally the events and the preoccupations of the main characters of A Time to love...
On a permission for three weeks a German soldier of the Russian front returns to his hometown to find his family. His discovers it has been bombed and starts on a quest to find his parents.
Like Douglas Sirk's other films, A Time to Love... falls into melodrama without falling completely into clichés or oversentimental. Every bad event is followed by a good one and every good one is followed by a bad one. The wheel keeps turning like that all along the story of the film.
A Time to Love and A Time to Die has a unique touch and feeling on World War II and it is an excellent and unforgettable film from one of the best director of the 1950's.
A Film Retrospective by Michaël Parent