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Dresden - drama DVD / art house and international DVD / television mini-series review
DRESDEN Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Felicitas Woll, John Light, Benjamin Sadler, Heiner Lauterbach
Director: Roland Suso Richter   Studio: Koch Vision
DVD release: 5 February 2008   Runtime: 180 minutes (2 discs)
Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English), Audio Tracks (Dolby Digital 2.0 - English & German), Making-of featurette, Archival military footage of the Dresden bombings ("Dresden Blasted," "Allies Drive into Rhineland")

Dresden, 1945. The Second World War is coming to an end as the Allied and the Red Army close in on Germany. In the city of Dresden, Anna Mauth works as a nurse at a Red Cross Hospital. Devoted and loyal to her duty, Anna also spends her off-days tending to patients. That her father is the director of the hospital and equally committed the welfare of his patients is an added bonus for Anna. Working in the same hospital is Anna's fiancÚ, Dr. Alexander Wenninger, in a match heartily endorsed by both set of parents.

As one of the largest cities in the German army's Eastern command, Dresden needs to be destroyed so that Stalin's troops can march into Berlin. The RAF bomber command has plans to annihilate Dresden's military base. On the night of February 13, as British Lancaster bombers hover over Dresden, they are shot down by the Germans. One of the bomber pilots, Robert Newman, survives. Shot and wounded, he makes his way to the basement of the Red Cross Hospital and is discovered by Anna. Anna mistakes him for a deserter from the German Army - and she knows the fate of such people (earlier, we are shown a horrific scene where a woman who hid her deserter husband is executed on the hospital premises). Anna keeps silent and helps Robert recuperate. As they fall in love, Robert's true identity is revealed to Anna, but not before she becomes aware of shady wheeling and dealing going on in her father's world.

Shocked and outraged, Anna has to decide where her loyalties lie. Is it to her country, to her family, or to her lover? Amidst her torment the bombers arrive, and the sudden indiscriminate bombings completely destroy her city.

A brilliant film, Dresden portrays the true ramifications of war. It shows how war is not merely blood and gore or rubble and ruins. While these may be the most visible post-war vignettes, what we cannot see is the destruction of human values and spirit. The only silver lining is that amid the wreckage and destruction, chaos and confusion, there are those few who will always rise to the occasion and show extraordinary bravery, courage and strength in the bleakest moments. In them rests the hope for humanity.
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reviewed by Shampa Chatterjee
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