Thursday, September 4, 2014
Generation War (Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter) by Philipp Kadelbach, 2013 (NR)
Generation War vividly depicts the lives of five young German friends forced to navigate the unconscionable moral compromises of life under Hitler. Level-headed, highly decorated officer Wilhelm (Volker Bruch) goes off to the eastern front with his sensitive younger brother Friedhelm (Tom Schilling). Deeply in love with Wilhelm is Charlotte (Miriam Stein), a young nurse who looks forward to serving in the Red Cross. Greta (Katherina Schüttler) is a talented singer who longs to become another Marlene Dietrich, while her Jewish boyfriend Viktor (Ludwig Trepte) fights for his life while hiding among members of the Polish Resistance.
This is a very singular viewpoint on the war from a German view, but also from the very particular viewpoint of five people experiencing it, not bad people initially, relatively open-minded, liking everything the youth of this generation liked, meaning parties, ideas, music, and somehow too, their country. Except that the context sends two to the front, one to be a nurse, one to the concentration camps, and the last one to be the cheer-up singer for the troops. The actions they are to make is going to define who they are and their survival. Because you have sufficient time to understand who they are and the context of things, it allows you to have more patience, an understanding of why they have to do what they do, sometimes decide to do what they do. They are somehow powerful and victims, irresponsible and desperate. Of course, the movie is not (and I am sure it doesn't pretend to be) a portrayal of the war and the Nazis, nor it tries to justify the Germans for having done all the horrors of the Nazism. I believe as the original name says ("Our Mothers, Our Fathers" in English), that it is about understanding what that generation had to go through, and allows the next ones to see them as human too, at least some of them. The issue with this movie is that it is so focused on one story that it omits to nuance it (which is not its role), and therefore seen individually, it creates statements that are not acceptable. On the other hand, there has been so many movies that depicted all Germans as evil that I find it ok for once to try and dig in what was going on in the lives of some.
with Volker Bruch (The Reader, The Red Baron - Der rote Baron), Tom Schilling, Katharina Schüttler, Miriam Stein, Ludwig Trepte, Henriette Richter-Röhl, Götz Schubert, Hildegard Schroedter