Best Minutes 054: All You Have to Do is Rest
As an American watching a movie made by Americans about Americans coming home from World War II, I couldn't help but wonder what it was like for those on the other side of the war. The United States didn't see the massive campaigns that Europe did. The cities of the Midwest weren't transformed into rubble by bombing runs. Add to that the almost mythic quality WWII enjoys in our cultural memory and the war becomes something almost ahistorical - an adventure we went on as a nation rather than a conflict that affected the lives of everyone involved, civilian and solider alike. That's what I like about THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES - it reveals the real cost of war, stripping away some of that mythic veneer in order to make us think about the human persons who brought the war home with them.
But I wanted another perspective on the war and on this movie. Namely, what was it like in Germany? How did those people pick up the pieces after the war? What kind of cultural memory persists there? Fortunately, my friend Sr. Kerstin-Marie Berretz, O.P., a Dominican sister in Germany, was gracious enough to come on the show to talk about how World War II is remembered in her country, how her family was affected by it, and how well this movie treats its characters.
As an alternate title for this episode, what else could I call it but "Die besten Jahre unseres Lebens"?