Westler (1985) Poster

(1985)

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10/10
Totally relevant for the 21st Century
edba22 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw this film on German TV and have since acquired a copy for use with 18plus students. The treatment of a difficult subject - both in respect of the political problems created by the cold war and the growing relationship between the two main characters is brilliant. It is impossible not to empathise with the boys - even if you are not convinced of same-sex relationships ( in which case apply the same problems to a boy-girl scenario). The ending leaves you to determine the outcome for yourself and the problems which the two boys have to endure would test any relationship to the full - please watch it with an open mind. The song 'West of the Wall' - a so-so hit for Miss Toni Fisher - is one of the film's highlights and 'camped-up' by The Waltons superbly. It's almost worth watching just for this performance. I defy anyone to watch the film through and have no opinion at the end. Forget its time and place - it could still be today, and with some of the pressures on young guys even now, this just might remove some prejudices still held.
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The best German gay movie?
Wolfgang Schmitt28 March 2001
I bought the VHS (thank God I didn't spend money on the more expensive DVD) of this movie, as it was being advertised as THE German gay classic. I was very disappointed. Although the idea of the story is great (young man from West- Berlin falls in love with young man from East- Berlin, the wall makes their romance complicated) and all the actors are trying as hard as they can, the movie lacks some serious story-telling capabilities on the director's side. A script is basically non-existent, the musical score is terrible and even "non-candid camera" shots in West- Berlin are terribly photographed. Thumbs up for candid camera shots of every-day life in 1985's East- Berlin and sneaking into a gay bar in communist Germany and for performances by the actors playing the couple. But NOT a must-see.
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3/10
Pretty weak
cinemaphil2 April 2008
First - the good things about the film. Nice blond Rainer Strecker's character seems a good representative of East Berlinean gay archetype in the 1980s :) Some of the GDR tokens - Nina Hagen, obligatory military service for men, the Baltic for a week off, Prague over weekend, signs in Russian every now and then - will definitely make some modern Germans nostalgic... That country is gone for good - or for bad :)

Now the actual critique. The good, albeit trite, collision - love across the barb wire ("why can't we two simply live together") deteriorates as the film reels. Poor "pseudo-documentary" script. Strained story-telling. Awful MIDI-synthesizer soundtrack. Far from best use of 90 minutes' screen time. Obtrusive exploitation of how-bad-communism-is type of details. Was this meant to be a propaganda film?

Recommend to watch something else. If you are looking for films on GDR - there are better ones, try e.g. "Nowhere to go" (Die Unberuehrbare)
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8/10
History
bl-223 December 1998
The movie has its values in itself, but after Germany's reunification, it also has become a kind of historical value. It can tell us never to allow again walls to be built between us!
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10/10
Gorgeous, poignant romance
Linc Madison (LincMad)12 September 1998
Two men live only a few kilometers apart, and yet it is almost as if they are from different worlds -- East Berlin and West Berlin. Their blossoming romance is doomed by the Wall that separates their worlds, so they must savor the few moments they can share.
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4/10
The background is more interesting than the characters
Warning: Spoilers
"Westler" or "East of the Wall" is a West German 95-minute movie from 1985, so already over 30 years old, and probably the most known work by writer and director Wieland Speck. The cast here is not really well-known, at least not by today's standards. The only name I recognized is Thomas Kretschmann and he only plays a very minor part. This is the story of a gay couple, one living in West Berlin, the other in East Berlin, so the only way to meet is in East Berlin with the guy from West Berlin being forced to return home every night. That's why the one from East Berlin plans to flee over the Wall. Okay, the story is not too bad either, but honestly I found the acting nothing special at all. I don't need actors to go over the top, but I need them to not come off as 100% boring and walking zombies basically, even if they are playing the most normal non-special characters. That's why I never really warmed up to the characters or their story. But the film is interesting from the perspective that this is a German movie about the GDR from the days when it still existed actually. Maybe you can even call it a bit of a propaganda film, even if to me it felt more like fact-based and not really having an intent to stir anything up. So as a whole the setting and situation were what made the film occasionally work for me, not really the characters or stories between them. Overall, it just wasn't enough for a positive recommendation and I give this one a thumbs-down. Watch something else instead.
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