15 January 2012 | jlpicard1701E
The story of a German hard-headed woman through history...
At first I thought it would be another one of those "j'accuse" format movies about the German split between East and West, but while watching it more closely, I finally shifted gears and sat back and decided to be surprised.
Well, surprised I was. And what a surprise! This two-part movie revealed more than I thought.
It is the story of Western German woman traveling back to the GDR (German Democratic Republic), just after the fall of the Berlin wall (mark you, the movie was made in 1990 and tells the story of something that happened just a year earlier - hence the immediacy of the theme), in order to visit her dying mother.
While she does so, and through various stops along the way, memories and remembrances seem to pop up in her mind (which are represented by interpolated Black & White scenes at first, and in period Color later), resuming her entire life, from a "war child" - as the title calls her, Marleneken (from a children poem) -, to a restless adolescent, then to a self-conscious grown woman.
This is at least how the first part of the movie behaves.
The second part begins with her final arrival of the woman at her mother's house and the reunion with her sister and the rest of the family, only to be confronted with a handicapped mother, who seems to have recovered somewhat from a stroke, but whose dementia makes her completely estranged from the actual facts surrounding her.
The memories of "Marleneken" keep on popping up while she's visiting there and show us how much different her adventurous life in the Western part of Germany was, compared to the presumptions and suspicions of her own family, who assume she's just another wealthy "Westerner".
It is a fabulous pictorial of an entire life and despite its length, never boring or tedious. What is also wonderful in this picture, is that it is very human, showing us the inter-dependencies among people, both in the East and in the Western zone of Germany.
It is also a very touching story of an entire family thrown apart by historical events and how they learn to cope with them.
The director, Karin Brandauer, knows how to direct a very complex story and weave in a masterful blend of drama and humor side-by-side, just in the right doses as not to make it an obvious choice, but knows how to grow the interest in the life of the center character in such a way as not to make it either boring or tedious for the beholder.
The entire Cast is worth of Oscar performances and manages to convince us of their individual realities in such a way as to completely forget that we are dealing with actors.
The entire movie is involving and smooth in its development.
Personally, I think this is very well worth a second or even a third watching, but above all, it should royally be treated by being transferred in digital format onto either a set of 2 DVDs or on a Blu-Ray Disc.
Alas, nothing like this is available and I must wonder at the intelligence of some distributors who cannot see such a shiny gem lying around just under their feet.
So far (and we are in 2012), only a few TV stations have shown it. Is it because it was not produced by a major Studio? Your guess is as good as mine.
Fact is, that unless this comes burned onto a DVD or BD, no one will ever be able to really enjoy it around the world. With all the crap that gets a prompt digital commercialization these days, I wonder if there is not a tiny space for true works of creative art like this one? I hope in somebody reading this, being the "right" person for the task and able to appropriately act upon it.
Until then, watch out, the title of this gem is "Marleneken" and it was produced in 1990. Browse your local TV guide and see if someone is intelligent enough as to broadcast it in its entirety.
Good luck,... and good night!