Tuesday, 1 December 2015

West (Westen).

Christian Schwochow's movie goes a long way to expel the myth that crossing over from East Berlin to West Berlin for a new life in the late seventies was not quite what it was cracked up to be. His movie West (2013) tells the story of a Nelly Senff (Jordis Triebel) a single mother who in 1978 is smuggled, along with her son Alexej (Tristan Gobel), across the border with the intention of forgetting her past and starting a new life. Their first stop is at Marienfelde refugee transit camp in Berlin, one of three camps operated by West Germany during the Cold War and built to deal with immigration from East Berlin. It's at this camp that she first grasps that her treatment is even worse than she received in the East. Her interrogation at the hands of the American Secret Service is also made worse by the fact that they believe her boyfriend, who she had supposed had died in a horrific car accident three years previous, was a spy. With Nelly's Paranoia getting worse and her friendship with fellow transit inmate Hans Pischke (Alexander Scheer) put on hold when he is accused of being a Stasi agent, she does not know who to trust and begins to realise that she could have made a grave mistake leaving her home in the East. Now beginning to question whether life will be better in the West having to answer the same questions and facing the same oppression, with her young son facing discrimination at his West German school?
Mother and son struggle to be excepted after crossing the border....

....oppressive questioning does not help!

Written for the screen by Schwochow's mother Heide based on a semi-autobiographical German novel Lagerfeuer (Campfire) by the East Berlin born Julia Franck. It's a film that could easily be transposed to modern day and the current plight of the Syrian refugees and the humiliation they can face. It's a story about uncertainty and how people have problem’s, not all of there own making incidentally, in trying to adjust to another country. This movie with its great script, some first rate acting and which successfully transports its audience back to the Berlin of the late seventies is well worth a look and just could open your eyes as to what really went on during this traumatic period of modern history.

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