2017 German Film Series: Profiles in Courage

With its focus on individual responsibility to a personal ethical code and destinies shaped by the courage to uphold essential human values, the 2017 German Film Series is presented in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s reformation, which will be commemorated at Wartburg College through numerous anniversary events.

We welcome you to join us in the celebration of these contemporary German-language films, which will be screened with English subtitles and complemented by student-led discussions.  In addition to the common themes, many of the films also have a primary emphasis on the responses of German flimmakers to their country’s unification.

All films will begin at 7:15 p.m. in Whitehouse Business Center Room 116. These films contain scenes which may not be suitable for children. 

The Promise

January 17, 2017
Das Versprechen (The Promise, Margarethe von Trotta, 1994)
is the story of Sophie and Konrad who, in 1961, plan an escape from the eastern side of a divided Germany into the west. While one is successful, the other falters. Representing divergent senses of responsibility, opposing ideologies, loyalty to the state, self-fulfillment, and contradictory examples of courage, they live lives apart until the fall of communism, yet still share the bond of love. The role of the Protestant church as sanctuary to protesters is introduced as a secondary theme.

Goodbye Lenin Movie

Jan. 31, 2017
Good Bye, Lenin!
(Wolfgang Becker, 2003), winner of multiple film awards, traces the impact of the political events that defined Germany’s Wende (the turning point in German unification history, 1989/90) on the East German Kerner family. When the protagonist’s mother awakens from an eight-month-long coma—during which time the Berlin Wall is demolished, the communist East German state collapses, and western capitalism takes root—Alex reinvents history and creates a fake world in which nothing has changed in order to protect her from the potentially fatal shock of learning the truth. In the process, “as carrier of the film’s dream” (Reinhard Zachau) of a better world, he feels compelled to construct an image of the socialist state he would have liked to see, the humane, free-of-fear socialist society that could have been. By so doing, he challenges the film’s viewers who were quick to abandon the idea of a new socialism and embrace the victorious capitalist West.

The Lives of Others

Feb. 7, 2017
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006, Oscar for Best Foreign Film)
introduces us to life before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, when East Germany’s population was closely monitored by the State Secret Police, or Stasi. Only a few citizens above suspicion, like renowned pro-Socialist playwright, Georg Dreyman, were permitted to lead private lives. As the situation changes and the values of the main characters evolve, they discover their own humanity and the courage to raise it above their own self-interest.

Jack - German Film Festival

Feb. 21, 2017
Jack (Edward Berger, 2014),
winner of several select film awards, follows the journey of a 10-year-old boy who, far more mature than his own mother, assumes the responsibility for establishing order in his family. His courageous decisions challenge us to reflect on our own lives and time.