, , ,


Directed by Christian Petzold

Germany, 2012

Cornerhouse, 6 October 2012


The great virtue of this film, set in East Germany during the Cold War, is that it eschews the trappings of a thriller and instead concentrates on character.

We are shown a woman, Barbara (played by Nina Hoss), who is intent on fleeing to the West; but at the end she decides to stay and tend to those who’ve been injured by the oppressive system.  Another, a girl who has only hope, takes her safe passage.  Her vocation – Barbara is a  doctor – requires that she should stand at her post.

There is an interesting analysis and discussion of a painting by Rembrandt in this film.  It acts as a kind of coda and is key to understanding Barbara’s integrity.  She changes – gradually, imperceptibly – but she makes no compromises to the inhumanity she sees around her.  Rather, she becomes more herself: a vision revealed in marble.

It’s a fine film of quiet yet brilliant effects.