Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lore - A Gripping Tale of Germany in May, 1945 and a Young Woman Coming to Terms with History

Set in Germany at the end of the Second World War, this film takes up where others like Downfall leave off and asks questions about how the erstwhile beneficiaries of Nazi rule cope with their new world. The film tracks the journey of five innocents as their life of privilege collapses and they are forced to come to terms with the effects of dreadful events over which they had no control but to which they have given their tacit support. 

Four of these children are really too young to bear any culpability. Only the oldest, Lore, is really capable of comprehension and it is through her eyes that the film is focused, as she slowly realises just how much her parents are implicated in the horrors of the Nazi regime, and, as an extension of this, herself and the whole German people. Lore is helped to this realisation by Thomas, a Jew who appears to have been liberated from a concentration camp. But Thomas also has a psychological burden and may not be all he appears.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Trip of a Lifetime to Points West in Germany - June 2014

Aachen Cathedral
Germany presents a wide variety of landscapes from the coastal north to the Alps, bordering Austria. With its many elements fused only in 1870, Germany’s cities and towns reflect the centuries of independence and variety. Harbor cities such as Bremen give way to the Rhine Valley and the mountains of the south. Modern urban areas such as Cologne contrast with baroque towns like Celle and Rhineland villages such as Eltville. Leading this tour will be Jackie Klaassen and Tom Blair. Jackie has taught German and French for many years in the Bay Area. Tom was Chair of Foreign Languages at City College and has lived in Germany several years. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

18th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival @ The Castro Theater and the Goethe Institute Auditorium - January 15-21

The 18th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival is about to begin in San Francisco.  This is your chance to watch a multitude of German-language films on the glorious big-screen at the Castro Theater.  Some films will show at the Goethe Institute Auditorium on Bush Street.  Either way, check out the schedule to find a film that is sure to entertain and also provoke.   The Castro Opening night film is Two Lives (Zwei Leben). Here's a preview:

Germany’s official entry to the 2014 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film consideration. Starring acclaimed German actors Juliane Köhler (Nowhere in Africa) and Ken Duken (Inglorious Bastards), and a rare performance by legendary Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann. Europe 1990, the Berlin wall has just crumbled. Katrine, raised in East Germany, but now living in Norway for the last 20 years, is a “war child”; the result of a love relationship between a Norwegian woman and a German occupation soldier during World War II. She enjoys a happy family life with her mother, her husband, daughter and granddaughter. But when a lawyer asks her and her mother to be a witness in a trial against the Norwegian state on behalf of the war children, she resists. Gradually, a web of concealment and secrets is unveiled until Katrine is finally stripped of everything and her loved ones are forced to take a stand. What carries more weight: the life they have lived together, or the lie it is based on?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Auf der Anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven) - German film on Netflix

A good way to get into the German language is to immerse yourself in a German-language movie.  Advanced students might turn off the subtitles and see how much they can "grasp" of the film.  Movies are visual above all, so this might not be as difficult as you think.  Here's another Netflix recommendation to check out: