Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
In 1993, there was a movie called 'Twenty Bucks', in which the camera followed a $20 bill from one person to the next. Here's the exact same idea, done more than 60 years earlier in Germany. Considering that this is a German drama, it has a surprisingly light-hearted tone. The central object in this movie is a 10-mark banknote.
I shan't try to work out a currency conversion for what 10 German marks in 1926 would equal in our own era's money, but evidently 10 marks were a respectable weekly wage for an unskilled labourer in 1926. Young peasant girl Anna (Mary Nolan) has just received her first week's wages in the form of a 10-mark note. She gives it to her mother (Agnes Mueller) ... who brings it to the market, intending to buy groceries. A pickpocket steals the money.
And so forth. Along the way, this banknote generates more trouble than it seems to be worth. Several people die or have their lives ruined, for the sake of briefly possessing this meagre piece of currency. (Of course, in 1926 most German filmgoers would recall the horrible inflation of only a few years earlier, when it cost a MILLION marks to buy a loaf of bread.) The message here seems to be that money is inherently evil, that the trouble it causes far surpasses the good it can do.
SPOILERS NOW. At the end of the movie, of course, the 10-mark note comes back into Anna's possession ... and she recognises it by the serial number as the same note. Meanwhile, Anna and her young neighbour Andreas (Werner Fuetterer) have fallen in love. They embrace, and the banknote flutters to the floor ... where Anna's dog tears it to shreds. Oh, the irony! Oh, the moral!
Despite some heavy-handed visual metaphors, this is still an interesting movie with an interesting depiction of life in Germany between the World Wars. Oskar Homolka is impressive as Anna's employer. I'll rate this movie 5 out of 10. Got change for a deutschmark?
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