“German lesson”: Christian Schwochow's timeless, contemporary novel adaptation

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“Some lead, some follow”, was just around the license plate on the car in front of us. That was a game, the quote. A very german. Rammstein have played it and still play it.

Was also a nice game for a while. In any case, when one could be reasonably sure that this does not come back so quickly with the guiding and the longing, the longing for the one who leads, after the one idea to follow, the idea of ​​the joys of the (patriotic) Duty for example.

But everything comes back. Like the sea water into the watt. And because this seems to be the case at present, because this is not a very bad, if creepy, picture of German history as an eternal tidal stream, is “German lesson”, Christian Schwochow's film adaptation of the novel by Siegfried Lenz, so to speak, the film at the hour.

A timeless, timeless parable about what fascism can make of people, families, communities. How he poisoned her gradually and over all supposed time turning away.

Max Ludwig Nansen (Tobias Moretti) and Siggi Jepsen (Levi Eisenblätter)

Max Ludwig Nansen (Tobias Moretti) and Siggi Jepsen (Levi Eisenblätter)

Source: Goerges Pauly / ZDF / Senator

And how the silent soul of a boy is destroyed, out of which his father wanted to make a “useful” person, how it is crushed between sense of duty, fatherly love and the idea of ​​a higher moral truth.

“German lesson” is a story of two rooms. The reformatory in which Siggi Jepsen is sitting and writing an essay on “The joys of duty” and he – completely cramped – the spring rammed into the hand.

You do not know why he sits there. You do not know when that will happen. Remedies are pretty timeless affairs. And then there is the land on the dike where everything always returns and only the silt remains. The sky is as big as the cell in the institution is small. But the world is tight everywhere in this movie.

No swastikas, no Nazis

Seagulls scream, wind blows, there is a lot of silence. Rails end in damp sand. Dead fish are washed up. Germany, which is known from films that play in 1943, is far away. No swastika flags in the whole movie. No parades. No Nazis. Only normal people.

Post comes from out there, that's it. Jens Ole Jepsen, the representative of the state power in Rugbüll, brings it to the painter Max Ludwig Nansen. A painting ban was pronounced. Nansen paints dangerous pictures, they are called “degenerate”.

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Siggi – eleven years old – is the godchild of the painter. He loves him. He flickers wide-eyed – Levi Eisenblätter is as memorable in the end as Helene Zengel at the end of Nora Fingscheidts “Systemsprenger” – between both back and forth.

Between the father, who has barricaded himself in the inner wagon-castle of his sense of duty, who strikes, who follows and in what he considers opportune for leader and fatherland, goes so far that he has his great son, who is seriously injured by the Front butt dike has dragged, finally sent to death.

No Emil-Nolde biopic

Perhaps, before the fear grows, that the two-star Christian Schwochow, together with his mother Heide from the 1968 published, has made a good 600-page former school reading, the worst thing is what a German film about leadership and the consequences can, an ambitious lesson namely, mention what “German lesson” is not everything.

It is not an Emil Nolde biopic – Max Ludwig Nansen is less than in the novel the portrait of the Nazi-occupied Nazi von Seebüll, but a (very living) principle.

Nor is it the saintly story of a martyr of artistic freedom – in the end, Siggi is as much abused by Nansen as by his father. A cinematic reformatory is “German lesson” – despite their investments – also not become, which is mainly because of Tobias Moretti and Ulrich Noethen make more of the painter and his supervisor than around circulating contemporary history model railways.

No sacred history of a martyr of art freedom: Max Ludwig Nansen (Tobias Moretti) and Siggi Jepsen (Levi Eisenblätter)

No sacred history of a martyr of art freedom: Max Ludwig Nansen (Tobias Moretti) and Siggi Jepsen (Levi Eisenblätter)

Source: Goerges Pauly / ZDF / Senator

Because Noethen, for example, who was never more evil, perhaps never greater than here, even through the virtually opaque uniform of the monstrous policeman repeatedly let a deep-seated despair shine through.

Schwochow's film is just like the novel with both rubber-legged legs in the mud of realism, realistic it is just as little as idyllic (that was accused Lenz 1968).

Schwochow takes his time, gets involved in the gestures, the faces, the dunes, the light, the change of tides. “German lesson” is a chamber play in a wide landscape.

The storm takes over, birds attack, once a British plane, dead fish are washed ashore, Jens Ole Jepsen burns down the house that once belonged to Jews and in which Siggi had built his refuge from seized paintings, photos and dead animals.

Everything will come back

When the war is over, everything returns. The commissar in the car with which he has taken away the “degenerate” painter. The father takes up his duties in the uniform, whose Nazi symbols the family neatly removed and secured in a cigar box.

Everything is always going on somehow. The story turns. Siggi goes crazy, doing what he thinks he does. At last a useful man, he thinks. Does not follow anymore. Performs actions.

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Save, because you never know when something really comes back, the works of Max Ludwig Nansen. And ends up in the reformatory. German history is a pretty easy way out. “German lesson” is a very nice movie.

(tagToTranslate) Noethen (t) Ulrich (t) Moretti (t) Tobias (t) Krekeler kills (column) (t) Schwochow (t) Heide (t) Krekeler-Elmar (t) Lenz (t) Siegfried (t) Schwochow (t) Christian

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