“I have something on my mind; I may have made a mistake.”
Journalists investigate an aging German industrialist (Gustav Rudolf Sellner) who may have been responsible for the massacre of a Greek village during World War II.
In his second directorial effort, Maximilian Schell tackled the enormous, daunting topic of post-war German guilt. The story itself isn’t entirely successful: it wanders off into too many disparate, didactic directions, and Schell relies too heavily on stylized flashbacks. Yet there are many quietly powerful moments — as when Sellner suddenly begins to reflect on the potential folly of his wartime acts, and tells a bedtime story to his grandson:
“Where must I go to find happiness?” the boy said.
“Happiness?” Death said. “Come with me.”
While Sellner’s grandson goes happily to sleep at the end of the story, it’s evident that Sellner himself — regardless of his sense of guilt — will never be quite the same. Ultimately, The Pedestrian comes to the sticky conclusion, voiced by a journalist towards the end of the film, that while “there may not be collective guilt, there should be collective shame.”
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Gustav Rudolf Sellner as Heinz Giese
- Giese explaining to his grandson that “some mistakes are final”
No, but film fanatics will probably be curious to check it out.