Winter Quarter Film Series: Coming of Age in Germany

Submitted by Michael Neininger on
Stephanie Welch and Jasmin Krakenberg
Coming of Age in Germany Film Series. Poster design by Stephanie Welch.

This quarter, we screened a wide range of films focused on portrayals of youths in Germany. We started the series with Ich war neunzehn (1968), a DEFA production and depiction of personal experiences of the director, Konrad Wolf. The film tells the story of a young German who fled the Nazis with his parents and in 1945, returned to Germany as a lieutenant in the Red Army. This film was followed by Martin Zandvliet's Land of Mine (Under Sandet, 2015), which turns to the possible war crimes in Denmark after Word War II. The films portrays a group of German POWs who are forced to dig up land mines along the Danish coast. The film is starkly shot by Camilla Helm Knudsen, contrasting the sight of dead bodies against the serenity and beauty of the Danish landscape. Skipping ahead a couple of decades, we turned our attention to the portrayal of Berlin street kids in Maria Speth's 9 Leben (2011). Rather than follow them onto the streets, the filmmaker decided to place each of the seven youths into a gallery-like room and to give each individual ample space to speak. If this reminds you Warhol's screen tests, you’re onto something! We concluded the series with Fatih Akin's adaptation of Wolfgang Herrendorf's popular novel Tschick for the big screen. It is about summer, two unlikely friends, a stolen car, and a road trip that will probably change the boys' lives. Who is ready for summer?   


We also turned our attention to German television. After the recent stateside success of shows like Dark and Deutschland 83, the latest show is a crime series set in 1920s Berlin. Launching this January on Netflix, Babylon Berlin follows police inspector Gereon Rath through Berlin in the period between the two world wars. The show is based on the crime novels of Volker Kutscher. Kutcher is currently working on the sixth of the nine parts, each charting a single year in Germany's slide into Nazism. With its glitz and glamour (thanks to the outrageous production budget of $ 45 million), the series attempts to appeal to many...and it did not take long to get our audience hooked. We celebrated the premiere with a screening of the first two episodes on the 'big screen', followed by a discussion and small cocktail reception in the Simpson Center for the Humanities.


We are currently working on the film series for the upcoming spring quarter and we hope many of you will join us for screenings and discussions. More to come soon!