Distant Lights (2003)

  |  Drama

Distant Lights (2003) Poster

This movie reflects on the situation around the border between Poland and Germany. The fate of many single characters creates a picture of life in this region: Some Ukrainians want to cross... See full summary »

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

29 July 2005 | diand_
| Fortress Europe
Lichter is situated on both sides of the German-Polish border. It portrays several citizens of both the German and the Polish side of the border and some illegal immigrants hoping to cross the border to the Promised Land. Several story lines are set up, but only some meet. After all stories are set up, some characters act out of love for someone, even make a brave and important decision to help someone in need. All are betrayed, so this makes a pretty depressing picture with little hope and redemption. Even the building project as a sign of hope and cooperation turns out to have a negative angle.

From a cinema-point of view it would have been a better idea to connect all story lines and I found that a missed opportunity. But it succeeds in balancing the motives of all characters: Some act out of selfishness, some out of love, and others out of survival. At one moment in the movie immigrants are called fortune seekers, later they are called people in need.

Hans-Christian Schmid's direction is average. This is made for little money and it shows. It looks a bit like an upgraded TV-movie, with relative few interesting camera shots. But my guess is he wants us to focus on the theme of the movie and he succeeds in that, because after a few minutes you stop thinking about the movie's obvious technical limitations.

The tag line of the movie is Welcome to reality. But as cinema is all about manipulation this is a strange one. Every filmmaker has to start by making a choice where to place his or her movie in the movie universe, somewhere between the real world and the imagined world where a movie interacts with our imagination. So this is as manipulated as would be the reverse: Show a border town where everybody's happy. Show happy immigrants working happily on beautiful Berlin building projects. So here we still watch an imagined world being thoroughly manipulated by the director. And this certainly hasn't the realism of post-war Italian cinema.

As for the real world: With Poland now a member of the EU, the movie is already somewhat out of date and Poland will within a few years reach the wealth of say the Portuguese. Illegal immigration will always exist and has always existed: People seeking asylum, people wanting a better existence. The whole debate in Europe is about where to draw lines. This gives some reflection on that process.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

31 July 2003


German, Polish, Russian

Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Kunowice, Lubuskie, Poland

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