The Power and the Glory
Tony Breeze, 24 mar 2021 - 131
A love story with a difference based on two events that actually took place in different parts of the world.
We begin with a flashback – a tourist talks to an ailing doctor about a nearby village.
Fade to a young boy soldier, Peter, travelling to join his unit in France. He is German and the war is still going on. In his naivety he doesn’t yet know the nature of the work done by his future comrades. The unit is briefed by the boss - they are to lay low in a small village awaiting a possible push by the enemy.
Peter meets one of the local girls and falls in love. He is chastised for getting involved by one of his colleagues.
All goes well until the local mayor holds a dance to welcome the guests and some of the soldiers get out of hand and commit a drunken rape on a deaf and dumb waitress. She exacts her revenge by killing one of the officers.
On the discovery of the body, the senior German officer calls all the villagers together in the church and threatens them that they must produce the offender but all enquiries are without success.
Peter slowly begins to realise the nature of the unit’s duties.
The senior officer decides that the offender has probably made his/her confession to the elderly priest and tries to persuade him to give up the secrets of the confessional but to no avail.
When all else fails he allows one of his keener officers to sort out the priest who takes him from his prayers and performs a modern-day crucifixion. The priest hangs, barely alive, on his own cross, guarded by some of the soldiers. That night they fall asleep and the waitress climbs a ladder to give him food. In the morning the ladder is discovered and the soldiers reprimanded.
The senior officer then has an idea - in order to loosen the tongues of the villagers he decides to bring about an enforced famine and instructs his staff to remove all the sources of food in the village. However things begin to go wrong, the fabric of society breaks down and in their hunger the villagers revert to their animal state. The final source of food is the wafers being used by the nuns in the Holy Communion and when the senior officer tries to stop this, the Mother Superior refuses and risks being shot.
The senior officer is afraid that there’ll be trouble when headquarters find out but the keen officer whispers that they don’t have to find out if there are no witnesses.
The starving villagers, including Peter’s girlfriend, are finally herded into the church and the hanging priest is given one final chance to divulge the offender. He refuses and boy soldier has a terrible choice – to kill or be killed. He tearfully chooses the latter.
We come back to the present and the tourist learns that only one person survived the massacre so assumes that this must be the story-teller. He is surprised when the latter tells him that his name is “Peter” and that he was actually the one holding the gun.