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The Road Back

The Road Back(1937)

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Crying Boy

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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As World War I ends, a remnant of the German army gathers together in the trenches behind the front lines, preparing for one final offensive. They attack and suffer many casualties, but manage to capture a French outpost just as the Armistice is signed. As the soldiers begin their march home, they have little understanding of how their world has forever changed. Returning to Germany, they discover waves of revolution, as all officers in the army are demoted and the Kaiser flees the country. Finally at home, Tjaden, Willy, Ernst and Ludwig encounter a mob, which attempts to tear off Ludwig's officer's stripes. The four men, though outnumbered, take on the mob and defeat it. Ernst has a tearful reunion with his parents and his old sweetheart, Elsa, Ludwig's sister, until he realizes that she is still living in a Germany that no longer exists. Tjaden stops a mob's attack on the butcher shop of Mayor, and receives the hand of Mayor's daughter Angelina as part of his reward. Upon returning to school, the veterans find children in the place of their old classmates. Albert, another veteran, is dismayed to learn that his fiancée Lucie, has been befriended by war profiteer Bartscher. While the couple quarrels, troops fire upon a group of hunger strikers. Weil, one of the strikers, marches up to the captain of the troops, Von Hagen, and tells him that his troops are shooting down veterans. Von Hagen calmly orders his old comrade shot, and the crowd disperses when it is fired upon by machine guns. After Tjaden's wedding, the old friends go to a cafe where Albert discovers Lucie in the company of Bartscher. Albert draws his revolver and coolly shoots Bartscher dead. At his trial, Albert's friends argue that the murder was not his fault, but that of the government, as Albert was trained for four years to kill men he never knew, and thus felt no restraint in killing a man who was doing him harm. Despite their pleas, Albert is found guilty. As Ernst and Ludwig walk in the country, they come across a group of young boys doing military drills, no doubt preparing for the next war while still in the shadow of the last. The two men comment on the utter futility of it all as they walk away.