- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

World War II buffs will not want to miss the video debut of the 1947 rarity Germany Year Zero, new from Image Entertainment ($24.99 DVD/$29.99 VHS, image-entertainment.com). It's our
Video pick of the week
Following his 1945 classic "Open City," dealing with the Nazi occupation of Rome, director Roberto Rossellini took his cameras to a bombed-out 1947 Berlin to record this overwhelmingly stark, ultimately brutal black-and-white look at postwar German life, using (extremely effective) non-actors to tell his story.
The film focuses on 12-year-old Edmond (Edmond Moeschke), who scavenges the urban ruins to score increasingly by any means necessary a few marks or scraps of food for his imperiled extended family. A chance meeting with a pedophilic former schoolteacher, now dealing in black-market Nazi memorabilia, infects our young protagonist with a deadly idea, which ultimately leads to crushing tragedy.
Whether Rossellini's powerful portrait offers an olive branch to his erstwhile sworn enemies, subtly revels in their miseries or does both in a complex mix is open to interpretation, but the results are as fascinating as they are unremittingly grim. Dubbed in Italian and subtitled in English, "Germany Year Zero" arrives as an apt home-video companion for such similarly potent postwar survival films as the celebrated Japanese animation feature Grave of the Fireflies (Central Park Media, $29.95) and the 1946 Teutonic guilt trip Murderers Are Among Us (First Run Features, $29.95 DVD, $24.95 VHS).
For a somewhat more ironic, revisionist look at postwar Germany, we likewise recommend Rainer Werner Fassbinder's sweeping 1978 chronicle The Marriage of Maria Braun newly available via Wellspring Media ($19.98 VHS only) starring the riveting Hannah Schygulla as the seductive, scheming eponymous heroine.
'War' remembered
Still on the subject of World War II, MPI Home Video last week released a deluxe six-disc set of the award-winning miniseries Herman Wouk's War and Remembrance ($129.98, 800/777-2223, mpihomevideo.com). Ranking as the most expensive project in television history, the epic series, which originally aired on ABC-TV during the 1988-89 season, picks up where Mr. Wouk's earlier "The Winds of War" left off, opening a week after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and ending with the detonation of the first atomic bombs in Japan.
The 14-hour, seven-part series, directed by Dan ("Dark Shadows") Curtis, employs actual locations and assembles an international all-star cast that includes Robert Mitchum, Sir John Gielgud, Sharon Stone, Chaim Topol and Ralph Bellamy. MPI's edition comes complete with a bonus disc incorporating interviews with Mr. Wouk, several actors and production personnel; the featurette "War and Remembrance A Living History"; and a new documentary, "The Making of War and Remembrance."
The play's the thing
Viewers searching for further diversity should scope out Kultur Video's (www.kultur.com) latest additions to its ongoing Broadway Theatre Archive series, which returns long-out-of-print public and network TV theatrical productions to the home-video ranks. Kultur's fresh quintet kicks off with Alice at the Palace, Elizabeth Swados' 1981 "music hall" version of "Alice in Wonderland," starring Meryl Streep in the title role.
The series continues with James Bridges' 1972 adaptation of Jean Renoir's Carola, with Leslie Caron and Mel Ferrer; Julie Harris and Robbie Benson in George Schaefer's 1976 mounting of James Prideaux's The Last of Mrs. . Lincoln; Stacy Keach's 1976 Luigi Pirandello interpretation Six Characters in Search of an Author, featuring Andy Griffith, John Houseman and Julie Adams; and Karl Genus' 1967 edition of Maxwell Anderson's The Star Wagon, with Orson Bean and a young, pre-"Graduate" Dustin Hoffman. The titles, available now, are tagged at $24.99 DVD/$29.99 VHS each.
The 'A' list
Among those recent theatrical releases heading to home video, look for a trio of femme-slanted films. Julie Davis stars as a self-help author who could use some enlightenment of her own in the indie romance Amy's O (Sundance Channel/Showtime). Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn and Emily Mortimer play struggling sisters in the drama Lovely & Amazing (Lions Gate Home Entertainment). Married woman Diane Lane embarks on a dangerous affair in Unfaithful (20th Century Fox), co-starring Richard Gere. All three titles will be priced for rental VHS and also available on DVD.
Phan mail
Dear Phantom: HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show": Was it released on VHS or DVD? If so, how to get it?
Rich N., via e-mail
So far, only The Larry Sanders Show: The Entire First Season (HBO Video) has landed a video release. Movies Unlimited (www.moviesunlimited.com) has the three-DVD set for $42.99.
Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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