Monday, December 24, 2012

Deutschland Bleiche Mutter (1980)

Some spoilers ahead !

Deutschland Bleiche Mutter (DBM) as a film has to be placed firmly in context. The viewer has to be aware of a little bit of history - the Nazi Germany, post-war trauma and the Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung - for instance. The film was made in 1980 - the German unification was still a decade away and the east-west division was fully in place. DBM is directed by a female director, Helma Sanders-Brahms and that adds a different dimension to the film's perspective concerning agony of the war and motherhood.

The film is not objective at all and thus is very slow paced. The first half of the film extends as a road film with Lene (Eva Mettes) walking through the forests & seasons with her new born infant. While on a casual stroll, my actual connect with the film came when Lene gets raped by the allied soldiers and when she remarks "the victors' right, little girl". From that point on my entire perception of the film had a whole new notion that, Lene (as the mother) is the metaphor for Deutschland herself. While I am not sure if it was intended, the film made much more sense on an abstract level after that point. Lene's paralysis on one side of the face, Lene losing all her teeth to avoid the spread of the paralysis, Lene covering one side of the face with a dark veil, her troubled relationship with her husband, her unexplained anger on her daughter - all suggested the disarmament, the east-west division and the mental trauma that the war brought to the society.

Eva Mettes' stupendous performance stands-out and she obviously carries the film almost single-handedly. Her face conveys an infectious gloominess right from frame one preparing us for that epic tragedy - the climax.

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