Getty Research Institute, Photographs, Film, and Video

World War Zinnemann

Montgomery Clift, Ivan Jandl, and Fred Zinnemann on the set of The Search

Montgomery Clift, Ivan Jandl, and Fred Zinnemann on the set of The Search (1948). Image courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. © Warner Bros.

From Casablanca to Saving Private Ryan, the horrors and heroisms of World War II have provided decades of cinematic material. However, as director Fred Zinnemann masterfully demonstrated, meticulous exploration of the human experience—both immediately before the war (The Seventh Cross, 1944), and after (The Search, 1948)—can be even more revealing.

The Seventh Cross screened last week as the opening film in the Getty Research Institute’s film series Fred Zinnemann: The Cinema of Resistance. The series continues tomorrow night with The Search, which offers one of the most memorable, and underrated, film experiences on the reality of post-World War II Europe. The film was one of the first to be shot amidst the ruins of German cities, including the devastated Nuremberg. It tackled the lingering fears left by war from a child’s nonconformist perspective, as only Zinnemann, himself a well-known nonconformist, could.

The literal search of the The Search is the great balancing act of a young, displaced boy, Karel (Ivan Jandl), who has come to associate adult interventions with the evils of the Nazis, searching his memories for clues to his mother;  a mother losing hope in the search for her son; an army engineer (Montgomery Clift in his film debut, with a cooler on-screen presence than James Dean) making what he considers the only obvious choice as he takes the boy under his wing; and a United Nations worker (Aline MacMahon) trying to make everything right again. The search for a boy or a mother can come to an end, but the search within us all to find an end to inflicting harm on future generations does not.

A conversation with director Fred Zinnemann’s son, Tim Zinnemann, and Getty scholar Jennifer Smyth follows the screening. The search continues on April 17 with High Noon (1952) and on April 24 with Julia (1977).

Karel shows his concentration camp tattoo in a still from The Search by Fred Zinnemann

Still from The Search (1948), directed by Fred Zinnemann. © Warner Bros.

Displaced children in rags in a still from The Search by Fred Zinnemann

Still from The Search (1948), directed by Fred Zinnemann. © Warner Bros.

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      All Hail Tiberius, Least Media-Savvy of the Roman Emperors

      Tiberius was proclaimed Roman emperor on September 17 in AD 14, exactly 2,000 years ago.

      He was also a bit wacko. “He was the least media-savvy emperor you could imagine,” says curator David Saunders, who has been in charge of this bronze portrait of Tiberius which leaves us on September 22. He point to this description found in the writings of Cassius Dio:

      Tiberius was a patrician of good education, but he had a most peculiar nature. He never let what he desired appear in his conversation, and what he said he wanted he usually did not desire at all. On the contrary, his words indicated the exact opposite of his real purpose; he denied all interest in what he longed for, and urged the claims of what he hated. He would exhibit anger over matters that were far from arousing his wrath, and make a show of affability where he was most vexed…In short, he thought it bad policy for the sovereign to reveal his thoughts; this was often the cause, he said, of great failures, whereas by the opposite course, far more and greater successes were attained.

      Moreover, David tells us, “Tiberius’s accession itself was a farrago: Tiberius sort-of feigning reluctance, the Senate bullying him, he being all, ‘Well, if-I-have-to,’ and in the end—according to Suetonius—saying he’ll do it as long as he can retire.”

      Suetonius is full of great, albeit spurious, anecdotes about poor old Tiberius, David reports. “When someone addressed him as ‘My Lord,’ it is said, Tiberius gave warning that no such insult should ever again be thrown at him.”

      Happy accession, My Lord!

      Portrait Head of Tiberius (“The Lansdowne Tiberius”), early 1st century A.D., Roman. The J. Paul Getty Museum

      Statue of Tiberius (detail), Roman, A.D. 37, Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Laboratorio di Conservazione e Restauro. Currently on view at the Getty Villa following conservation and study.


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