Thursday, March 13, 2014

2 hours: Barbara (2012 Film)

Barbara is a 2012 German Film that tells the story of a woman physician living in East Berlin during the 1980s.
My brief analysis of this movie is influenced by two main factors. Firstly, as a history major who is currently finishing a course on Soviet Russia, I find myself greatly interested and concerned with the historical climate and relevancy of this movie. Secondly, I watched this movie at the end of an all-nighter where I was writing a paper on Russian history during the Brezhnev era. Therefore, I've chosen to embrace this academic overlap.
Barbara accurately portrays the paranoia and double-consciousness of regular people living under Soviet rule in block states such as East Germany. Barbara disdains the oppressive control she lives under and makes plans to escape to the West, but at the same time feels great responsibility to her work as a physician to care for her East German patients. The movie explores themes of negotiation within the Soviet system, where individuals neither wholeheartedly rejected authority or endorsed it, but rather bargained within the system in order to better their own livelihoods. The film also deals in exploring the facets of East German identity and ideology. 
Also, recognizable German words and phrases throughout. Learning has been accomplished.

2 hours: Nowhere in Africa (film)

I watched the German film Nowhere in Africa (Run time: 2 hrs 20 mins). It is a story about a German Jewish family who escapes to Kenya during Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s. Upon the outbreak of WWII, the British round up and separate German citizens, dividing up the family. The are eventually reunited and return to Germany, but their lives forever changed and Africa feels (especially to the mother and daughter) as a true home.
I found this film useful in terms of hearing words (supplemented with the assistance of subtitles) that I knew used in the fast pace of regular dialogue. Family names, like Opa, Oma, etc.. Foods, and other recognizable German. Early in the movie, a character explains how the informal "du" is more appropriate to use than the formal "Sie" when in Kenya.
As for understanding German history, this film is valuable as historical fiction to describe the lives of fleeing German Jews during the rise of German National Socialism. The film accurately intimates the looming threat of Nazism in the 1930s, as well as illustrates the confusing juxtaposition between being a Jew but also a German citizen (in terms of how the allied powers perceived you).