Keira Knightley said her new film The Aftermath, set in the bombed-out ruins of Hamburg just after the end of World War II, had important lessons on building bridges that were very relevant for today’s divided societies.
The romantic drama sees Knightley play Rachael Morgan, who moves to Germany to be with her husband, a British colonel who has a leading role in the reconstruction effort in Hamburg. They move in with a German widower and his troubled daughter.
Her co-stars — Australian Jason Clarke who plays her husband Lewis, and Swedish Alexander Skarsgard who plays a German architect — also attended the world premiere Monday at London’s Picturehouse Central.
“It’s very relevant for now. It’s about building bridges, it’s about how we see each other as human beings and we don’t demonize each other and that’s obviously something that we need to do right now,” Knightley said.
The port city of Hamburg suffered a devastating bombing raid by the Allied forces in July 1943, known as “Operation Gomorrah,” that killed some 40,000 people and caused the destruction of swathes of the city.
“I knew nothing about the rebuilding of Germany … I haven’t thought about how unbelievably difficult it must have been to not only physically rebuild these places but also mentally for English and German people … who had been enemies, who had literally killed each other for six years, to suddenly forgive and move forward,” Knightley said.
Clarke said: “We’ve benefited so much from the Lewis Morgans who put Europe together … guys like him built it up and made Germany and Europe what it is today, we all stand on the threshold of wanting to tear it down.”
The Aftermath opens in cinemas in Britain on March 1, and in the United States on March 15.