Die Grosse Liebe (1942)

Genres - Drama, Romance, War  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, War Drama, War Romance  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Germany   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Hans J. Wollstein

It is an unsettling experience indeed to watch the flip side, so to speak, of Hollywood's morale boosting musical extravaganzas of the 1940s. In Die Grosse Liebe, one of Ufa's most successful homefront musical melodramas, Zarah Leander is as far removed from, say, Betty Grable as she could possibly be. Where the vivacious Betty, a nice, innocent girl at heart, took to wearing revealing swim wear and seductive smiles to keep up the morale, both on the screen and in contemporary advertising, Zarah's wartime path goes in the opposite direction from seductress to saint. A modern viewer cannot help but speculate whether Nazi-approved screenwriter/director Rolf Hansen by 1942 retained any delusions at all regarding the outcome of the war. Despite some faintly reassuring dialogue, Hansen certainly leaves his characters looking to the future war efforts in general and their love in particular with some trepidation. In fact, victory, according to Leander's final song in the film, "Davon Geht die Welt Nicht Unter" ("It Isn't the End of the World"), would take nothing less than a miracle. "I know one day a miracle will happen," she sings but her doleful appearance belies the sanguine sentiment. Although both Leander and Staal remain standing at the fadeout, Die Grosse Liebe is a typical example of National Socialism's infamous mix of "kitsch and death."