The movie deals with the real life story of East German singer and writer Gerhard Gundermann and his struggles with music, life as a coal miner and his dealings with the secret police (STASI) of the GDR.
After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, huge sections of the city were left an urban wasteland. For over four years director Hubertus Siegert followed the mammoth building projects in the city after the fall of the Berlin wall. He roughly covered the period 1995-2000, but from the film itself it's not quite clear what period is covered exactly.
Geographically, the main focus is on Potsdamer Platz, the surroundings of the now finished Lehrter Stadtbahnhof, the government quarter and the surroundings of the Alexanderplatz (former East Berlin), where during the shooting of this film - besides endless political debate - nothing significant happened but where the main focus of the building activities has shifted during the last couple of years.
No other city in he world has seen an urban renewal project on such a scale as Berlin in the '90s and it's still far from finished (if it ever will be). The film contains some stunning aerial footage, perhaps the only way to fully grasp the scale of the mammoth rebuilding in the city, greatly enhanced by the soundtrack from the Berlin group "Einstürzende Neubauten". Off course, it's not just the scale of these projects that are important, but also the political debates concerning the various projects touching not only Berlin but German history and identity as well.
As a whole, the film is a little uneven, as it wavers between architectural documentary, spiritual journey and an overview of Berlin (and German) history. Nevertheless essential viewing for anyone with an interest in architecture, urban planning and history in general.
Camera Obscura --- 7/10
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