"Fatherland" or "Vaterland" is a West German movie from 1986, so this
one had its 30th anniversary last year. The director is Ken Loach and
he recently made the headlines with his new work on Daniel Blake
(including several BAFTA nominations). This is also I guess why this
one we have here went up a bit on the IMDb star-meter. Anyway, it runs
for 100 minutes roughly in the version I saw and here we have the only
acting performance from musician Gerulf Pannach's career. It is a lead
performance and he seemed like a good choice because his character here
has some possibilities to his own life and career. Just like Wolf
Biermann for example, Pannach was critical with the SED regime in the
GDR and the fact that he starred in films like this one on the other
side of the Wall certainly did not help things at all. There are even
some people who think the SED regime may have used radioactivity on
Pannach that could have resulted in his untimely death to cancer. We'll
never know. The script here is by Trevor Griffiths, an Oscar nominee
for Warren Beatty's "Reds", so the background has some parallels.
Now about the action: We have an East German musician who commits a crime (according to the regime) and is told that he has to choose between leaving the country or going to jail. He does the former, but has to leave behind a whole lot that he loves, not just his family, but also the people who admire him and love him for who he is in terms of the approach to music and politics. The East German regime of course treats him as a traitor afterward who apparently did not care about his fans or the GDR. Plus there is also a background story about the protagonist's father who was in a similar situation decades earlier during another crucial time in German history and the parallel between father and son. I personally thought the first 40 minutes or so were really interesting, when it is all about re-integration and I liked how the film depicts that the left as well as the right side of the Berlin Wall are both scum basically and that Pannach's character is nothing but a tool that they both (want to) use for their own despicable purpose in order to show their people that their ideology is the only right one.
It is interesting how the film basically always relies on Pannach's character's interaction with one female. Be it the woman he loves, an agent who welcomes him in West Germany or a French journalist with whom he is supposed to have a special connection. I write "supposed" because I was not feeling this connection at all. To me, Pannach and Babe had almost no chemistry at all and this was a negative deal-breaker here. I never had the impression during their pretty long screen presence together that I was watching authentic characters and dialogue. Such a pity. Everything until then was pretty good, but then it was really going south. It becomes an entirely dialogue-driven film the longer it goes and with the dialogues not working as meaningfully at all as they were supposed to work I must say I am pretty disappointed. There was certainly potential for more with a better final story arc. I don't even think it was the problem of the actors. This decline in quality is also why I give this movie a thumbs-down eventually and don't recommend checking it out. "I, Daniel Blake" is still my favorite 2016 film from what I have seen so far and easily will stay in the Top5 or Top3, but with the three-decade-old "Fatherland" Loach is nowhere near the level of his most recent projects.
Singing the Blues in Red
Action / Drama
Singing the Blues in Red
Action / Drama
Persona Non Grata in his homeland, protest singer Klaus Drittemann must leave East Berlin, his wife and child and emigrate to West Berlin, where the representatives of an American record company are eagerly waiting for him. They plan to exploit his defection from communism both ideologically and financially. But Klaus, as ill-at-ease in the West as he was in the East, is reluctant to be used as an expendable commodity. Leaving his contract unsigned (or signed in his manner), he leaves for Cambridge to meet his father, a concert player, who -just like him - left East Berlin thirty years ago as Klaus was a little boy. He is accompanied by a young French journalist, Emma, who knows where his father has been living since he disappeared for more than a decade. The young lady is cooperative but might hide things from him...
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