Pedestrian, The (1973)

Pedestrian, The (1973)

“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.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Flashback Films
  • German Films
  • Guilt
  • Journalists
  • Maximilian Schell Films
  • 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”

Must See?
No, but film fanatics will probably be curious to check it out.


One thought on “Pedestrian, The (1973)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, though it’s not a bad film of its type. I believe it’s successful-enough on its own terms.

    With its predominantly dark palette, the film is memorable visually. However, it’s an (understandably) somber film and its pacing is deliberately measured.

    It will mainly be appreciated by those with an interest in WWII stories.

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