31 Mar 2023 |
Posted by Jonathan Radnedge | 0 Comment.
** Life in the GDR was the common thread running through this short film season. Politics could have been a heavy and intrusive presence in the telling of these retrospective stories but their very humanity shines through in spite of the inevitable pressures.
Good Bye Lenin! was about a woman who, having had a stroke and resulting coma, is allowed, when she wakes up after the Wall comes down, to believe that the ‘normal’ GDR life is still going on, in case the changes cause her to have a relapse.
Goodbye Lenin – floating past the window . . . from the film
To achieve this, her children recreate the old East inside their tiny council flat, with some hilarious consequences.
Barbara, made in 2011 but set in 1980: Barbara, an ambitious young doctor, is exiled to a provincial hospital as punishment for attempting to leave East Germany.
Confined to a claustrophobic small town and with her every move noted by Stasi agents she lives under a constant veil of suspicion. She becomes involved with her doctor boss, which causes her to be torn between her instinct and her duty – a very GDR problem.
The Lives of Others, made in 2006 but set in the 1980s: In this outstanding Oscar winning psychological and political thriller we get a fascinating insight into the lengths that the GDR regime went to in order to control the lives of the population.
A Stasi agent, spying on an acclaimed playwright and his actress girlfriend, finds himself increasingly sympathetic to them and their relationship highlights the boring life he himself is leading – again a clash between duty and reality.
We had a well-attended follow-up meeting at the Eastfield Inn to discuss the films. Many expressed admiration for the way Germany has used the medium of film to explore this complex time in their recent history.
The stories were told with honesty and using exceptionally talented ensemble casts rather than the commercialised star system. We agreed that, although each story was different in regard to the political and social circumstances that framed them, in the final reckoning human beings will find a way of surviving even against heavy odds.