Faced by the deserted streets of Benghazi or the sand-dunes, we suddenly think for the space of a second of something else – the snack-bars on the Champs-Elysées, a girl one liked, everything and anything, lies, the treachery of women, the shallowness of men, playing the slot-machines. . . . It is at once the most direct and the most secret of films, the most subtle and the crudest. It is not cinema, it is more than cinema.
The movie, made more than a decade after the end of the Second World War, is a sharp and shrieking vision of the ravaged, resounding emptiness of the postwar world. Though it’s a period piece, “Bitter Victory” takes its place beside films by Antonioni as a philosophical vision of modern psychological and moral dislocation.