25 May 2020 | markmuhl
A cold welcome to a new life
A good movie about an interesting aspect of German history. Did you know about the existence of West German refugee transit camps during the period of cold war, which had the assignment of receiving and processing East German immigrants? Well, I did not. Dated in the 1970's, the movie allows us to follow a young mother and her son into the camp of Marienfelde in West Berlin after she managed to cross the border by means of a West German pretend husband.
There however, her high hopes for a better future in the West are confronted with a system of bureaucracy and distrust, since according to secret service any immigrant could as well be an East German spy. Nelly is especially suspicious for having been a member of the East German Academy of Sciences and for the father of her boy being a Russian who disappeared mysteriously.
Altogether, it is a coherent story with a good mix of characters. We get to know short term acquaintances like a Russian speaking girl who makes friend with Nelly's little boy Alexej. When leaving the camp with her family she also disappears from the story. This gives a good example of typical transit camp life where people come and go all the time.
It is also the camera work, which supports the feeling to be effectively part of the camp life. It often does so by showing the protagonists behind some fuzzy object in the foreground. The good acting also must not be disregarded. Next to award winning leading actress Jördis Triebel I would like to mention the flawless performance of Alexander Scheer, who gives the mysterious character of a former East German dissident, who seems to be stuck in the camp forever.
Memorable also the scene, in which Nelly seduces the American secret service officer into sex with her. When finding out in bed that all the humiliating interrogations about her Russian ex-boyfriend being a spy are only based on speculation, she turns the balance of power upside down and drops the guy. Good girl.
Some user comments suggest that the story may not be completely correct from a historical point of view. Oh well, I prefer to see the movie as a general metaphor about the clash of hopes and reservations, that immigrants have to face in their new homelands. Despite its indicated happy end, the movie clearly suggests that the outcome of this conflict is rather open.