Review of Den osynliga muren (1944)

Moving picture, 105 minutes

Seen in 2022.

Sweden has recently fallen under the occupation of a unnamed foreign nation. This enemy, which represents Germany, brings with it the Holocaust, and yet its military is made of people too.

A romantic flashback about eight minutes into it shows this film to be the Swedish answer to Casablanca (1942). It’s more entertaining than Casablanca, mainly because it has higher stakes. It uses the same motif of moral dilemmas all around, as opposed to action scenes, but these dilemmas revolve around the Holocaust itself and the use of violence for the prevention of violence, which is more interesting than a Czech resistance man and Bogart’s ennui.

The ersatz Germans all speak perfect Swedish, which is thoughtful of them, and there are a couple of plot holes as in the US film. The biggest of these is the final scene: The ersatz SS arrive on an unguarded pier to see a small sailboat, with a puttering little engine, heading out to sea a couple of hundred metres away. They know that one person on that boat is implicated in the assassination of an officer. They may know or suspect that another person on that boat is a resistance man, probably responsible for a recent bombing. The leader of the squad orders his men to fire at the boat, which makes sense. He himself fires a pistol at it, which is just wasteful. His men on the other hand have rifles, and could reasonably be in effective range, but they are not seen to fire. None of them make any attempt to steal a boat or call their own navy to intercept. They seem to be thinking, in the words of Principal Skinner, “Damn! They’re very slowly getting away.”

References here: Black Crab (2022).

moving picture fiction