As the Berlin Wall crumbles, Katrine, the daughter of a Norwegian woman and a German occupation soldier, finds her idyllic life disrupted as she refuses to testify a trial against the Norwegian state on behalf of her fellow "war children."
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Lisa Loven Kongsli,
Europe 1990, the Berlin wall has just crumbled: Katrine, raised in East Germany, now living in Norway since 20 years, is a war child: the result of a love relationship between a Norwegian woman and a German occupation soldier during World War II. Katrine enjoys a happy family life, with her mother, her husband, daughter and grand-daughter. But when a lawyer asks her and her mother to witness in a trial against the Norwegian state on behalf of the war children, she resists. Gradually, a web of concealment and secrets is unveiled, until Katrine is finally stripped of everything, and her loved ones are forced to take a stand: What carries more weight, the life they have lived together, or the lie it is based on? Written by
German screenwriter, film editor and director Georg Maas' second feature film which he co-directed with German screenwriter and cinematographer Judith Kaufmann and co-wrote with her and screenwriters Ståle Stein Nilsen and Christoph Tölle, is inspired by a novel called "Eiszeiten" by German author and journalist Hannelore Hippe. It premiered in Norway, was shot on locations in Norway and Germany and is a Germany-Norway co-production which was produced by producers Dieter Zeppenfeld, Axel Helgeland and Rudi Teichmann. It tells the story about a middle-aged woman named Katrine Myrdal who lives in a house near the coast in Bergen, Norway with her husband named Bjarte whom is in the Navy and their adult daughter named Anne whom is living there with her new-born daughter named Turid. Sometime after receiving a call from her mother named Åse Evensen whom is picked up at her house by Bjarte and Anne and brought to their home, Katrine is contacted by a German attorney named Solbach whom has knowledge about her history and who asks her to testify in a trial against the Norwegian Government.
Subtly and engagingly directed by German filmmaker Georg Maas, this finely paced and somewhat fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints though mostly from the protagonist's point of view, draws a multifaceted and involving portrayal of a Norwegian citizen of German origins whom whilst looking for a nurse named Hiltrud Schlömer who used to work at an orphanage in Sachsenhausen, Germany during the Second World War meets a person who reminds her of her true identity. While notable for its naturalistic and atmospheric milieu depictions, sterling cinematography by German cinematographer Judith Kaufmann and fine production design by production designer Bader El Hindi and costume design by costume designer Ute Paffendorf, this character-driven and narrative-driven about the criminal SS organization called Lebensborn which was founded by the German Reichführer of the Schutzstaffel Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945) in Germany in the mid-1930s for the sake of realizing the Aryan visions of the Austrian-born Chancellor of Germany Adolf Hitler (1889-1945), which was prominent in occupied Norway (1940-1945), which focuses on some of those "many" children who were born, in this particular case, by Norwegian mothers who had been in extramarital relations with German SS members during World War II and the ostracizing treatment of these children and women in post-war Norway, depicts a refined study of character and contains a timely score by composers Christoph M. Kaiser and Julian Maas.
This historic, atmospheric, modestly romantic and conversational drama which has been chosen as Germany's official submission to the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards in 2014, which is set mostly in Norway and Germany in the late 1960s and early 1990s and where a daughter whom is considering to begin studying law meets a man whom is searching for information about her mother and a woman who suffered the consequences of her Nazi countrymen's disgraceful experiments on human lives is reunited with the men who recruited her, is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented narrative structure, substantial character development, efficient continuity, variegated characters, gripping flashback scenes, comment by Bjarte : "What is the truth?", the reverent and understated acting performances by German actress Juliane Köhler, Norwegian actor Sven Nordin, Norwegian actress Julia Bache-Wiig, German actress Klara Manzel and the noteworthy acting performance by Norwegian actress, screenwriter and director Liv Ullmann. An unsettling, heartrending and poignant thriller.
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