Das Boot, a 20th century film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, is based off the fictional novel "Das Boot" by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. The story takes place in 1941 and is about a particular crew's experience fighting on a submarine for the Nazi's during WW2.
The film exposes the frustrations, thoughts, and emotions of all crew members at sea; however a few characters stand out as the main characters: the captain of the boat, the Engineer and the war journalist. The captain was of course the leader among the crew, so it was his call that led them to safety during dire situations, but it was also his call that let them sink during their second time out at sea. He was faced with the extreme moral dilemma of needing to obey orders, but also knowing the dim chances of survival. He chose to lift his crew's morals and put up a facade of bravery before the second attack (which led to them sinking). Though Peterson was against the war, as he thought it was a senseless fight to solely forward the Nazi agenda (and not that of the German people) he believed in the good nature of men (specifically, his crew). He too contained a lot of humanity and kindness despite being strict and curt at times to his crew members. The Engineer was emerged as a lead character because he was the most brilliant who saved everyone when they sunk. His perseverance and kindness made him a hero to everyone. The journalist was a main character because he was the only one on the trip who was not a soldier in war, and so he served as our naive eyes as watchers. Though, he was at first mocked, the crew befriended him, and even entrusted him with secrest such as being engaged to a French flower girl. The journalist's job was the same as ours: to observe the depth of those men on board, and in the end critique the significance of the cause in which they were fighting.
Peterson conveyed the grueling and boring nature of being stuck in a boat for weeks on end by the long durations between moments of action. In this way Peterson left the audience feeling worn out, tired, and frankly, bored- just like the crew felt.
The cinematography was also very purposeful in this film, since we watched the daily struggles of operating the submarine, while also seeing the emotions of each man on board. The scenes that had a longer shot allowed us to comprehend the inner mechanisms and the power of the submarine, while the close up's allowed us to see the intricate face expressions, often conveying pain or fear.
Sound was used by Peterson to contrast the chaotic action with the suspense involved with drifting into unknown foreign territory. At times when the submarine submerged deeper, and the pressure rose; the entire crew was silent and watching the barometer. However, when the crew was bombed the film became very loud and stressful. The variation of sound mirrored the reality of fighting underwater.
Much of the film was dark portraying a grim existence on board. In the end of the film Peterson made an interesting decision to have the entire crew take part in a cheerful celebration of their survival and victory, only to be bombed by planes overhead. This showed that though the men finally had come above the boat, there was no escaping the war.
Only the journalist and perhaps the engineer survived the bombing; which triggers the audience's sense of loss for all of the wonderful heroic men we had seen. Moreover it is the captain who sees the ship sink and drops dead immediately following its submersion. The film thus, leaves us with a critical view of the trivial nature of war, and the waste of life that occurs.
(there are some spoilers in my review)
"Bandits" is a 1999 film directed by Katja von Garnier. At first, it appears to be a classic break out of prison story, much like "Thelma and Louise", but it has much more to it than the thrill in being chased. The story contains elements of a feminist and religious agenda, as well as being rather abstract. The film continually borders on realism, though incorporates too much symbolism to be completely so.
The story of "Bandits" is of women who befriend one another in prison and share their passion for making music. They form a band called the ‘Bandits' and are able to escape during a trip they take outside the prison to perform for a upscale community outreach society. During their escape they are able to publish an album and make the press; and eventually become loved and supported by many people. Though in the end they are unable to escape the country as they plan to all along, we question whether Garnier rebelled against the Classical Paradigm in this way to convey alternative ideas about one's purpose in life.
The Classical Paradigm is the most popular way to organize a story. It begins with an exposition which introduces the characters, setting, and sets up the problems that will be faced. Next, there is a rise to action leading into the second act. This act contains about half of the content in the story. The second act is dominated by the climax which is the "peak" of the film/book. This is where there is a change in the characters. After this their is a resolution leading to closure. That last act is about a quarter of the film/book. "Bandits" does not follow the Classical Paradigm. Instead, there are many points in the film where one can interpret a climax. Moreover, there is no closure in the film, as we are left without a finished scene of the women dead nor are we left with a hopeful image of the women having escaped. Rather, we are left with the moments before they escape, where they throw down their weapons, but the head detective had already called an order to his SWAT team to fire. We never see the bullets strike the women, though we can extrapolate their deaths since Garnier closes with a image of a hand reaching for anothers from above with a sunsetting in the background. The hand from above can be interpreted to be Marie's (as she recently passed away) and the other hand to be one of the remaining three women. This scene is complex, as it is not an ideal ending of what we had hoped but portrays this as the right way for the women to escape, departing from earth. Furthermore, it assumes there is an afterlife, and that this life after life is preferable to the one they lived filled with pain, misunderstanding, and stress of escaping.
Feminist scholar and film critic, Laura Muluey, spoke out against most films for containing a bias of a ‘male gaze'. She claimed that much of film viewed women actresses as sex objects that were objectified to be viewed as symbols rather than dynamic characters like the men. In Bandits we see that these women are strong independent and angry souls, containing much more complexity than their male counterparts. Additionally, we see a woman's gaze at the domestic abuse that took place in the film, since it is Emma who is seen as the victim rather than the man she killed. We see the pain that haunts her after losing her child due to being beaten by a man in her jazz band, and we see other women consoling her despite being angry and unapproachable themselves. Furthermore in Bandits Garnier portrays the women interested in sex "Angel" as a strong women to simply embracing her promiscuous sexuality and her not being dirty or wrong for doing so.
Though the audience may not be able to identify the climax in Garnier's "Bandits", everyone who watches this stunning film can see a revolutionary way of constructing a story with women lead characters.
"Beyond Silence" is a film about a deaf couple's difficulty to connect with their two children who are able to hear. The main character is the oldest child, Lara, who develops a talent and passion for the clarinet despite her parents being unable to hear, and thus not supporting her in her music education.
Lara has a very close relationship with her parents but after she begins to play the clarinet she grows away from them. They cannot understand her passion, and she remains angry at their inability to support her talent. Her aunt is in contrast, able to hear, and is a professional clarinet player. Since she is the one who gave Lara a clarinet and supported her the two become close despite the aunt not consistently being there for her. This closeness is shown in the cinematography capturing the two in similar positions or using similar hand gestures. One scene in particular when the two were in Berlin (for Lara to apply to a music school) shows them side by side in a car where a frame within a frame technique was used that really conveys Lara's imitation of her aunt. This relationship feels like a betrayal to the father since he and his sister do not get along. They both resent each other for receiving special treatment as children and also were unable to form a bond since one was deaf and the other was not.
This story is an alternative coming of age story for a family that struggles to connect; however the film also comments on society and their disconnect to handicapped people. For example, when Lara's grandmother comments on Germany's historical prejudice against sign language when she says "If I hadn't listened to that pighead, my hands might be able to fly, too.'' referring to never learning her own son's language.
"Beyond Silence" attempts to capture the everyday hardships of the deaf community while crafting an important message on the universal family dynamics, and importance to try and understand in order to retain a strong bond of love despite physical differences.
Though this film can classify as a Holocaust film, portraying pain as a result of the Nazi regime much like the others, it is radically different since it instead captures what is felt by those who were separated from the tragedy back home, and how their upheaval affected their sense of belonging in Germany. The readjustment is very difficult for every member of the family, since the Kenyan culture not only shifted their customs but also their values. A great exploration into culture shock and universal human emotions.