13 March 2012 | peter-legisa
A moving story about women (and men) in postwar Germany.
Hanna struggles, using any way possible, to survive and feed her two children and her rather domineering mother- in- law in a small conservative place in southern Germany after WWII. Her husband is a prisoner of war in Soviet Union. Hanna runs the family business, cabinet making, with a hired hand and the help of her children. The mayor of the place is a former Nazi, who spent just two weeks in jail for being the Kommandant of a nearby prison camp. He is now a successful conservative politician. He wants Hanna to sell the business to a competing company, in which he has a stake.
Hanna loves woodworking, is good at it, and wants to obtain necessary qualifications. If it were not for American Occupying Authorities, she could not run her business without her or an employee having a Meister certificate. The idea of a woman obtaining a degree in the dangerous craft of woodworking seems outrageous to almost everyone. She gets support only from another woman in a similar situation, a former pharmacist. Her husband, a physician, went missing during the war and she is reduced to working as a cleaning lady for the mayor.
Hanna writes all the time to her beloved husband. When he finally returns, there is the unexpected, as well as ghosts from the past... The film portrays vividly the harsh facts and consequences of the war, including a terrible war crime, without hurting the spectator. The heroine's energy and inventiveness somehow do not permit the story to slip in despair.
This is an excellent piece of work, with fine acting, good dialogues and a rich story. (I spent some time around a carpenter shop many years ago, and I must say that the atmosphere of the film is quite convincing.) The conclusion of the film is somewhat open ended, so there might be a sequel.