At an exclusive boys' school, a new gym teacher is drawn into a feud between two older instructors, and he discovers that everything at the school is not quite as staid, tranquil and harmless as it seems.
This film tells the sad story of a childhood somewhere in Germany in the early 60s. When Micha's mother leaves his irascible father, he tries to prevent their divorce by any means he can think of, but his attempts to hold the family together lead to a catastrophe. The film shows in a brilliant way how pressure and violence is passed along to an inferior person: Micha's father beats his son because he's frustrated about the poverty they have to live in and Micha vents *his* aggressions by teasing his little brother or the senile grandma of his best friend Olli.
What I really like about the film (besides being moved to tears) is the realism and attention to detail in everything from dialogue to set-design. It's all dead-on. Even today children in Germany still tell the obscene "poems" which Micha learns from Olli ("Rot ist die Liebe, schwarz ist das Loch ..."). Another example: When they refurnish the room of Micha's granny copies of the "Völkischer Beobachter" (an infamous Nazi-newspaper) appear below the wallpaper, indicating that the Third Reich wasn't that long ago. Or: When Micha is told to bring some plums to relatives you can see that they have more exotic (and expensive) fruits in a bowl on the table, indicating the difference in the social position in a very subtle way. The script is full of these exact observations, so that you'll discover something new even the third or fourth time you see this little gem.
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