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  • The fate of 2 German Junker (as in "royal" Baron)families before and during WW2.The black and white photography of this miniseries is something that can not be recreated > The Speewald area has almost become a sunken treasure. You witness a time where an isolated province with old prussian traditions is being touched and destroyed by 2 outside powers. Caught in the struggle are also a slavic minority, the Suebs, serving their German masters. Rich in culture without the "kitsch" this is not the run of the mill corny type of Heimatfilm. It is much more than that, I would describe it as a haunting timetravel to a lost German way of live.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The book on which this series is based is considered fine literature. Here is the parallel symbolism I see. In "War and Peace" by Tolstoy, Prince Bolkonsky dies in the arms of his beloved Natasha. The Bolkonsky great house is burned by the invaders. This symbolizes the end of the "Catherine the Great" era in Russia. In like manner, Ensign Hans Wratislaw Von Zehdenitz dies in the arms of the beloved goatherd, Barbel. The Von Zehdenitz family is gone and the castle is destroyed. This symbolizes the end of the "Frederick the Great" militarism in Germany. Also in "War and Peace," in the ruins of Moscow, Natasha's family is trying to salvage some part of their home and start anew when Count Bezukhov appears in the rubble. The union of the two symbolizes the new direction and renewal of Russia after the war. After Babiena is cut after grabbing, in the dark of night, the goatherd at Hans' grave, she stays to think and decides that Hans is no longer her paramour, there is another person who cares about him, and she will let Hans' remains stay with that person. She begins to show modest affection for Koslowski. Peter Koslowski grew up on an estate, which he expected to inherit. However the GDR did not allow him to have it. After the war, Koslowski left the hospital with a prosthetic leg, penniless. Koslowski represents the residual of the ruin of war. The union of Babiena and Koslowski symbolizes the rebuilding of German society after the war.

    The title of the series, translated, is "On the Green Banks of the River Spree" (There are some lovely and historic parks along the River Spree in Berlin). Lepsius sings out the song of that name (it is a sentimental19th century folk song about Berlin) in answer to the question of where they will meet again, if ever. They all join in. With the music playing "Till the End of Time" in the background, it indicates that their comradeship will continue no matter what.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This final sequence starts with the four friend still at the Jockey-Bar, telling stories. Here Bob Arnoldis (played by Günter Pfitzmann) will be the narrator of his tale, Capriccio Italien. Bob's choice of tale would have been impacted by the appearance of a former romantic interest (in Rome) with her husband at the Jockey-Bar. In his story, it is prewar, with Bob in civvies traveling by train to Rome. From newspapers read by his compartment-mates, we see that Hitler and Mussolini have just signed an alliance pact. Bob develops three romantic interests in his trip, one on the train, one in Florence, and one in Rome. He canoodles and titillates with all three. At the end of his tale, all his companions have a good laugh. Then his former romantic interest and her husband depart. In the last few minutes of this episode, our star, Elisabeth Müller (as Barbara da Babiena, alias Bastienne) arrives at the Jockey-Bar. She has been informed of this meeting by a mutual friend she went riding with. She is warmly greeting by the four friends and Peter Koslowski (played by Peter Pasetti). Schott (played by Werner Lieven) asks her pointedly if she knew Koslowski was here. She hesitates and glows, then says "of course" and stops gazing at Koslowski. The four friends assume there is a relationship between Babiena and Koslowski. Babiena becomes enraged that her two letters (with money) sent to Koslowski were returned unopened. Koslowski assures her that he never received anything. She leaves soon after, exiting with the five friends to get in her car, a 1959 Ford Sunliner convertible (this series is set in 1954). Oh well. She tells a funny story about how the car fender became dented, and everyone including Koslowski, laughs. One of the friends opens the passenger side door and invites Kowlowski to get in. He does. Babienne is all smiles. "Where to you want to go?" she says. Koslowski replies "With you, lovely creature, to the end of the world and forever." They drive away together into the morning sun. They get together for a happy ending.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This sequence opens, as with others, with glamorous pans of post-war downtown west Berlin, which lead to the Jockey Club where four old friends have gotten together for the first time since before the war. Each has been telling a story of an experience during the war. Peter Koslowski (played by Peter Pasetti) joins them late in the evening, and tells them of meeting with a mysterious young woman on his 1953 trip to his summer cottage in Markegrafpieske, in the GDR. The woman (played by Elisabeth Müller) identifies herself to Koslowski by an admitted alias "Bastienne." Recalling Mozart, Peter calls himlelf "Bastien" in response. This woman is named Barbara "Babsybi" Bibiena, and she has come to Markegrafpieske to find out what happened to Hans Wratislaw (played by Peter Thom) the man she loved before the war, , who was killed nearby in the war. Her plan for accommodation has fallen through, and Koslowski offers to let her stay with him at his small cottage. He assists her in finding the grave. They find it, but a goatherd, Barbel Kroll, tries to hide the grave. Hans had died in Barbel's arms in April, 1945, and Barbel is still attached to his memory. After encountering Barbel and learning of her four days of nursing and exchange of loving words with Hans, "Bastienne" decides not to rebury Hans in Berlin but to leave Hans with Barbel . However, when Bastienne leaves, she gives Peter no other name or address, but only the address of her attorney in Berlin. "Bastien" and "Bastienne" had been housemates (just friends) and partners in the search. He feels belittled by the cold departure. Although Koslowski did not know Barbara Bibiena before, the four friends were well acquainted or friends with her, and conclude that Peter has been helping Barbara, and are very happy to know she is well. They tell Koslowski who she really is. The friends want to bring Bibiena and Koslowski back together but, still offended, he refuses.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As the story opens, the four friends are still at the Jockey Club in West Berlin. Hesselbarth is asked about an acquaintance well-known to all four, Barbara "Babsybi" Bibiena. He takes out a diary prepared by one of Barbara's ancestors, translated into German, that she has loaned to him with supplemental letter. This sequence is mostly about the content of that personal diary, which relates the experiences of Ettore Galli da Bibiena (Barbara's great-great-grandfather) during the Battle of Kunersdorf in 1759. Historic Note: King Frederick II of Prussia personally led his army and suffered a crushing defeat by the Russians (assisted by Austria). To begin: In August of 1939, Barbara Bibiena (played by Elisabeth Müller) and her tutor arrive by chauffeured limousine at the castle of a family known to her tutor, the Zehdenitz family in Doberin. Barbara wishes to share the diary she has translated, since it involves them as well. After being welcomed, she reads the diary line-by-line. This story she relates forms the large part of this sequence. Of major significance is that Barbara's ancestor Ettore is asked by the dying ensign Wenceslas Bogdan von Zehdenitz to greet a lady Rosalba Bibiena, in Berlin. Ettore finds her (luckily) and realizes that she is a distant relative of his, and from the house of one of the master builders of Galli da Bibiena. After a reasonable courtship, the two marry. At the party that evening at the Zehdenitz castle, there is some attraction between Barbara and Hans Wratislaw, the second son of the Zehdenitz family. The next morning, Barbara and her tutor, Dr. Forster, accompanied by Hans Wratislaw, go to Kunersdorf to visit the actual battlefield. At a private moment, Hans and Barbara exchange expressions of love and give each other big kisses. Barbara wants Hans to accompany her family back to Chili on 20 August. While head-over-heels in love, Hans feels that the Zehdenitz's have always supported Germany, he goes to the military, and in April of 1945 he is killed near Berlin. Hesselbarth relates that Barbara returned to Germany in 1946, wants to find the grave of her Hans, and has begun the search.