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Cult Vault #5: François Ozon on Germany Year Zero

François Ozon on the movie that turned him into a budding auteur

Taken from the August 2010 issue of Dazed & Confused:

The director of 5x2 and Swimming Pool, François Ozon chose Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero as the film that made him want to make movies. A dark story of a child’s progress through postwar Berlin, it’s the third film in Rossellini’s War Trilogy. 


François Ozon: “Like all children, I watched Walt Disney’s films as a child, but one day when my parents weren’t at home, I watched a film on television that would have been forbidden for me. It was Germany Year Zero, released in 1948, directed by Roberto Rossellini. It was such a big shock for me. I was maybe nine years old and my idea of cinema was that it was just entertainment. For the first time, I saw that cinema could be something else – that it could be about myself. I felt very close to the young boy in the film, who tries to survive in the ruins of Berlin after WWII, where everything is destroyed in the city. It was at this moment – perhaps unconsciously – that I realised I wanted to make movies. Germany Year Zero has a very interesting mise-en-scène: the fact that Rossellini, an Italian director, went to Germany just after the war to make the film on location. At the end of the film, the young boy commits suicide. It’s quite shocking but it’s also very true, very powerful. It’s rare to see the suicide of a child in cinema. It’s like the end of the world.”