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Abstract

Wolfgang Staudte’s monumental film Die Mörder sind unter uns was the first film produced in post-WWII Germany. Staudte sets his film in Berlin, a city that has been utterly destroyed by war. In the film, he establishes a striking dichotomy between the two main characters, Dr. Mertens and Susanne. Staute uses cinematography and synecdoche to strengthen and further this dichotomy. These two perspectives, consequently representing two starkly different outlooks about the future of the city, construct Staudte’s dichotomy. Susanne has a positive post-war perspective and is accompanied by motifs of light and hope, while her counterpart, Dr. Mertens represents a negative outlook and is accompanied by shadowy motifs, leaning towards hopelessness. Staudte communicates through Susanne that love and compassion can rebuild and restore the city. As Susanne continues to faithfully love Dr. Mertens, despite his caustic outlook, we see the convergence of the dichotomy. The two perspectives become one hope for a new city.

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