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Jugend ohne Gott (2017)

German students compete to enter one of the country's elite schools.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Katharina Müller-Elmau ...
Damian Thüne ...
Hauke Petersen ...
Genet Zegay ...
David Meier ...


German students compete to enter one of the country's elite schools.

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dystopia | dystopian future | See All (2) »


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Release Date:

31 August 2017 (Germany)  »

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Only because it follows US-dystopians doesn't take its quality away
10 September 2017 | by See all my reviews

Admittedly, the timing is unfortunate, but maybe movies like Mocking-Jay, Divergent or Maze Runner inspired producers to look for German material which could be turned into such a movie.

However, Ödön von Horváth's Book "Jugend ohne Gott" was undoubtedly the very first, most progressive and audacious book written in the midst of Nazi times to illustrate the faults of fascistic and racist "Übermensch"-philosophies in which only the best are selected and furthered - at the expense of the ones pushed out of the system - whether they are not fit enough or whether they simply were born into poverty. The difference to the first mentioned movies, this one is undoubtedly based on the most rebellious book which was written not from the luxury comfort in today's democracies, but in the midst of the Nazi-rule in 1937. Therewith is a true valuable historical cultural wake-up-call, something Donald Sutherland hoped for when joining the Hunger-Games. Hence my 10 star rating.

There are many movies made out of that book: a french one, and each generation later one German version - this being the third one, so these film versions serve not only as a insight into the change of the German culture since the Nazi-time, but also as a reminder that the danger of the human personality being suppressed by a conformist society prevails through all times - especially today when we all are being tricked into believing that we have many choices whilst in fact being synchronized through mass-media up to the point that there is no room for even natural physical abnormalities any longer: Every pound of fat is looked down upon, every wart has to be removed asap, teeth have to be straightened until the ones who can not afford "that edge" over others seem to have lost their bite.

The 60s as well as the 90s version both are closer to the straight story of the 30s book, in opposition to this movie which used the movie format of 3 flashbacks or altogether 4 different versions of the same story seen from the perspectives of the most important characters to give it some surprise elements and demonstrate to us that our subjective version is but a fraction of the whole truth.

The one thing I did not agree with was that one girl was made to look better than she did in the book (by omitting a disloyal passage) which made me suspect that for the sake of the current political feminist correctness no woman was to be portrayed as devious. Generally I do disapprove such falsifications to the current zeitgeist because those are the "shine-ups" which distort history just as much as some old black&white-movies were artificially colored afterwards or how one can see 70s hair-fashion in movies about the Roman Empire. Life was as it was, and to gloss over facts so that everyone is happy, robs us of historical lessons and references - especially since modern findings often are short-lived only to be replaced soon by others.

But then again - this movie was set in the future, so artistic deviations are not only allowed but at times required and the movie did highlight some unpopular aspects, like some scenes in which the protagonist smokes as a defense against the overbearing conformist pressure - an aspect which is often either overlooked in ignorance or even purposely shrugged of malevolent when governments bombard smokers with peer-pressuring negative (and therewith unhealthy) indoctrination.

Whilst German movies and culture often lack the emotional flexibility of the diversity of English accents - for this movie the cold High German is very suitable for the 90% of main-streamer-scenes - not so much for the antagonists. Germany would do good not feeling compelled to subscribe to the one-and-only Berlin accent and to degrade other accents as stupid, but to integrate them in order to bring cultural and therewith emotional colors into their plays. In the USA accents are acknowledged as heritage whilst in Germany they are taken as a difference in class - the irony being that the southern accents which are perceived as stupid, belong to the wealthier part of Germany. Another aspect to it is an unspoken dogma of rightly cultural unsatisfied youngsters that "cold is cool" (in order to distance themselves from society) - something which does backfire as soon as age waters down the black&white-reality of fresh-faced concepts which turned out to be too one-dimensional.

The movie is good - the content valuable and thought provoking. Unfortunately my assessment is that this rather spartan film is too unspectacular and late to gain ground internationally after millions have been poured into special effects of English "tweenie-movies" already. Movies like this one years later make it into unspoken secret charts of rebellion. It is regrettable that Germany still follows Hollywood with an unhealthy delay instead of having the courage of creating own footsteps, and that "stupid German money" (look it up) still finances pure Hollywood movies like (the admittedly enjoyable) Atomic Blonde (merely for potentially attracting a few tourist to Berlin) instead of investing big-time into German endeavors to allow them to "dream big" as much as the USA does. This would serve very therapeutic for a predominant intellectual society with some of the most conformist rules in the world. Maybe that is the reason why this movie worked so much - it came straight from the horse's mouth.

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