Deutschland bleiche Mutter (Germany Pale Mother) (1980)




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Based on the life of Sanders-Brahms' mother, fictionalized in the person of Eva Mattes. Ms. Mattes marries Nazi soldier Ernst Jacobi, remaining loyal to her largely absent husband through the fall of Germany and the grim postwar era. The couple has a daughter, for whom the aggressively independent Mattes tries to provide even as those around her starve to death.


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With her film "Germany, Pale Mother," writer-director Helma Sanders-Brahms takes a contemplative look at the collective memory of Germany, bringing it down to a very personal level. The movie starts with a reading of the title poem by Bertolt Brecht, read by Brecht's daughter. The action opens with Sanders-Brahms(born in 1940) recalling the meeting of her parents, Lene(Eva Mattes) and Hans(Ernst Jacobi), which would have been romantic if not for the presence of Nazi soldiers on the scene. Neither is a member of the Party which while not a statement on their part still has consequences for them since Hans is one of the first soldiers called up to duty in Poland before being sent to France, as the couple at first does not decide to have children. As time goes on, he sees his wife everywhere and it becomes clear that they are changing, even if they do not admit it to themselves. After the war, there is no way to escape the horror of the war in the ruins. Eventually, it is put out of mind by the survivors, before leaving it to the next generation to recall it on their own terms, as the question becomes how much children really notice what is going on around them.

Walter M.
Walter M.

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