18 November 2018 | mdm-11
Dying traditions of old German village get unexpected injection of new life
Uwe is one of the last surviving villagers who are clinging to their old traditions, namely their "language". Not many "Ostfriesen" are still in command of the dialect spoken only in this remote Northern German region. When a government program to integrate foreign workers with special skills selects the village as host for their language training, most of the locals are skeptical. They speak of "refugees" who will taint the old traditions with their foreign cultures, a veiled suggestion of xenophobia and racism.
Old grumpy Uwe ends up teaching the "class" of foreigners, and quickly turns his own objections to the idea around and grows fond of his students. When exam time comes, all have failed completely to learn proper German (the high German used in print and on the TV news), but when Uwe points out that they have all mastered the Friesian dialect, which is, after all the "official language" of the region, all ends well, and the program is hailed a success and can continue.
There are quite a few funny scenes with linguistic misunderstandings, but also some tender moments that may bring a small tear to the viewers eyes. Don't expect an epic drama, because this is a German formula comedy. The subject of integration is handled in a way to show how Germany will need more skilled workers than the "local population" will be able to provide for a growing economy in a global society. A better future together, because everyone has talents to contribute.
Dieter Hallervorden (Uwe) has been the big come-back surprise with his recent critically acclaimed hit "Honig im Kopf". For decades the actor has been known as Germany's "clown" on TV and in films, and now in his golden years has become popular again with much more serious material. "Ostrfiesisch für Anfänger" is more light-hearted and on a small budget, but nonetheless offers a timely message as an effort to foster inclusiveness and to encourage looking beyond the familiar or "traditional" way of life in Germany. No big awards for this one, just a good load of entertainment.