A thoughtful and perceptive drama portraying the personal impact of state power abuse in the sixth feature from Christian Petzold, which takes us to East Germany during 1980 at the mid-point of Erich Honecker’s brutally oppressive reign.


The Soviet-led regime’s collapse was only a decade away, but there was no hint of it here.  This was a time when the Stasi had eyes on every street corner, workplace and public venue, always ready to pounce at the first sign of dissension and the power to do – well – anything.


Petzold regular, Nina Hoss, plays the title character, Barbara, a paediatrician summarily dismissed from her position at a prestigious Berlin hospital after committing the cardinal sin of applying for a visa to the West.  We find her in a remote rural post located near the Polish border where Hoss’ every expression and gesture hints at paranoia – a glance behind, a prolonged stare, an unexpected quick movement – but only enough to make us aware, paying serious attention to minute detail.


Barbara plans an audacious escape to join her lover on the other side of the wall but things become more complicated when she meets a handsome doctor; undoubtedly a Stasi informer but possibly of the unreliable kind who withholds and edits the info to keep his principals off the scent.  But can she trust him?  There is no way of knowing, which injects a very genuine tension into this quiet drama, giving a power to the understated that is far more effective than the more familiar dramatic arcs of less subtle filmmakers.


The grimy interiors and unmaintained surroundings contrast with open countryside where Barbara frequently rides her bike but these commonplace symbols of freedom form part of the tapestry of fear with the strong sense that Stasi officers are not far behind.  This fear becomes reality when they almost knock her off the road during a sudden arrest that concludes in an obligatory strip search, a particularly degrading process, which we witness again later in the film.


There are insights into an appalling labour camp when a teenage girl escapes, only to contract meningitis.  She forms a close bond with Barbara within the comparative safety of the hospital walls; a rare friendship in these parts that remains totally free of the usual mutual distrust.


This is a very different film from Florian Henckel von Dommersmark’s chilling masterpiece ‘The Lives of Others’, which deals with similar subject matter from the point of view of a Stasi agent with doubts.  Petzold’s positioning of the audience on the other side of the coin in the shoes of a victim provides an obvious counterpoint; a portrayal of the full horror of a surveillance that is only sometimes visible but is at its worst when unseen or not there at all – a rendering of what paranoia really feels motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada


Petzold’s intelligent filmmaking bagged him a Silver Bear as best director in a particular strong year at the Berlin International Film Festival. visit this portal right here

September 28th, 2012 - admin

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