Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Sonnenallee - 1999 film

I recently watched Sonnenallee, a 1999 German comedy film, directed by Leander Haussman.

This is a movie which I had been wanting to see for some little time, and I was glad that I did.  The work tells the story, set in the late 1970s, of a group of people living in East Berlin, very close to the East/West border. Indeed, the street on which they reside is "bisected" by the Berlin Wall itself. Some have friends or relatives living in the West.

The younger people are obsessed with "forbidden" Western rock and pop music.  One of the characters devotes much of his time endeavouring to obtain, by "unofficial" means, a copy of the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. album.

The main character, Micha, is preoccupied with his efforts to win the heart of the beautiful Miriam. Alexander Scheer excels in the role of Micha, and it is his performance which helps make Sonnenallee so endearing and entertaining.

As I watched the picture I found myself trying to work out which parts of the script were satirical and which were intended literally. The writers were undoubtedly poking fun at some of the GDR's shortcomings and absurdities, but I also gained the impression that they were seeking to get across the notion that the state had its plus points.  They may have been hoping to go beyond stereotypical portrayals, and in places could actually have been satirizing the West's often simplistic depictions of East German society.

There are some great "set piece" scenes in the film, some revolving around music, others looking at peculiar or noteworthy aspects of life in the GDR.  I enjoyed the parts which examined the issue of the smuggling of contraband from West to East.

Quite apart from the historical and political sub-texts, this is simply a very engaging and enjoyable film. I am admittedly highly receptive to the subject matter here, but I found this much funnier than most Western films of its type.

No comments:

Post a Comment