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Die Ehe der Maria Braun (1979)
A tale of how Germany was rebuilt by women following the horrors of World War Two.
We watched this film in our German Cinema class at university some years ago, and I still remember it well.
Without wishing to give too much away, it tells the tale of a woman who, seeing the desolate landscape that Germany was in 1945, determines to build herself a comfortable life and, as she does so, she becomes one of many women in Germany rebuilding the nation. This was a time, historically, when the women were a greater driving force in the social and economic rebuilding of the nation than were the men (who were both lacking in credibility following the horrors and the mess of the years past, and somewhat dazed by what the nation had just been through).
As she builds that life (and in so doing helps to rebuild the nation), however, she finds that she may have sacrificed too much.
It is a movie worth watching in order to gain some understanding of what life was like in Germany from 1945 to roughly 1970. Rainer Fassbinder makes use of images in places which show the transition of German society from broken ruins to economic superpower, the changing status of women in German society over that time period, the changing attitudes both within Germany and from outside toward Germany, and the sacrifices that women were prepared to make in order to build the Germany that they ultimately did. It also asks, though, if the single-minded pursuit of rebuilding the nation economically and materially did not take too much out of the nation and the people in other areas.
I enjoyed the movie, and am happy to recommend it.
Star Trek (1966)
The magic was in the interaction between the characters.
I have loved Star Trek since I first watched it as a child. However, the series which followed - Star Trek: TNG, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Enterprise - although generally still entertaining, seem to me to have left out the element which made the original series so special. Namely, the interaction between the characters, particularly Spock, Jim, and Bones.
So well written, and generally well acted.
With Bones (Dr Leonard H McCoy) being the opposite to Spock in terms of personality, so that the two of them always found something to argue about. Jim (Captain James T Kirk) in the middle, as a referee, displaying faults and strengths taken from both extremes. Extremes in the sense of McCoy being a very caring, compassionate, yet also highly emotional character. Representative of humanity, perhaps. Spock, the dry, cold, logical, emotionless Vulcan. Jim "a man of deep feelings", as Spock once said, yet also no stranger to thorough analysis of whatever situation the crew found themselves in. Bones seeking always to heal, to return everybody he met (whether friend or foe, human or otherwise) to as close to perfect health as possible. Frustrated by the fact that he (Bones) could not fully understand, for example, Spock's Vulcan anatomy. All three of them the closest friends. All three displaying unwavering loyalty toward each other - even though Spock would have found the suggestion of his displaying such a human quality to be insulting.
The dynamics involved, the interaction, led to brilliant moments of humour. A science fiction programme to be not only enjoyed for the imaginative stories and the themes, but also for the humour, for the humanity.
Which is not to suggest that the other characters were in any way second rate. Scotty's loyalty and his supreme confidence in his engineering abilities, Chekov's almost adolescent playfulness and humour, Sulu's loyalty, honour, and physical prowess, Uhura's dedication to duty and femininity in a masculine world, all added important and welcome elements to what I still consider to be the best science fiction television series ever.
The special effects were often laughable, the sets cheap and often reused, but the humanity, the character interaction, the stories, imagination, the brilliant writing... all added up to something very special indeed.
Das Boot (1981)
Fresh young men are transformed by the terrors and inhumanities of war whilst on board a German WWII submarine.
One of the best movies I have ever seen.
It tells the story, based on a factual account by a German war correspondent, of a German submarine during World War Two, where most of the sailors are fresh new recruits looking forward to making their first kill as their seasoned captain leads them in search of British ships crossing the Atlantic.
This film starts with fresh eager faces, clean and well-fed yet hungry for blood, and, over the course of the film, shows their transformations to bearded crabs-infested faces furrowed with the terrors and inhumanities of war.
Although this is a German movie on board a German submarine, the messages it relays to us apply to all peoples of all nationalities. The sailors are shown as losing their faith in their leaders, as being sickened and horrified by the war they are forced to fight.
The suspense in this movie is second to none. Brilliantly done! Using diagresis almost exclusively lends itself to an incredible level of suspense, as we sit and wait with the crew, lying helpless on the bottom of the sea, hoping that the British destroyers above won't find us and blast us yet again with the dreaded depth charges, as the crew desperately tries to repair their boat as their air runs out. The acting is superb, the screenplay is superb, the direction is superb... the only fault I find is that three hours (I watched the Director's Cut) seemed far too short!
Highly recommended - definitely in my top ten!
The Footstep Man (1992)
The Footstep Man looks at the lines between art and reality, and the effect that each has upon the other.
This is a film about film-making, with the film-within-the-film being very important to the plot of the film itself.
The movie itself - The Footstep Man - looks at the realisations and personal growth of the main character - Sam (actor: Stephen Grives) - as he works on the film. He and the director of the film - Vida (actor - Rosey Jones) - have differing views as to how the film should proceed, with each being spurred on by the central character in the film - Mirielle (actor - Jennifer Ward-Lealand). Vida and Sam are exploring personal tragedies through the film, and as the filming progresses, the hardships of Mirielle are reflected in the hardships of Sam.
I watched this movie as part of a film studies course and enjoyed it. The Footstep Man looks at the lines between art and life, and how one can affect the other through personal attachments and private fears.