After the last movie I watched, I’m excited to move on to something else… except TSPDT #994 is a weird one because it’s actually a TV mini-series. This makes my life difficult on many fronts. First of all, a 1984 German TV series is really hard to find to even watch. Second of all, the entire thing is like 15 hours or something so there is no way I can binge 15 hours in one sitting. Third of all, there is no way I’m making you read a post about a 15 hour “movie”. For this one, I will break my rule of watching everything in order, and I’m just going to watch this episode by episode while moving on with the list in between episodes. I’ll group my posts however it makes sense, but I’m going to guess there will be several of them and it’s going to take me a while to watch the entire thing. I have heard good things about this, and since it’s made around the same time as Das Boot, I’m really hoping I’ll enjoy it.
As you might have guessed by the title, I’ll be starting off with the first 3 episodes which happen to be around 4 hours in total, so essentially this is like watching 2 movies. The series follows a family living in Germany after WWI, through WWII and into the aftermath. The first 3 episodes cover 1919-1935 and were actually not too bad. There are some characters that I like and it’s interesting to watch Hitler come into power and see how the people of Germany reacted to it.
I’ll start off with the characters. The first episode centers mainly on one of the sons, Paul, who just got back from the military serving in WWI. He falls in love and tries to find meaning in his life after the thing’s he’s seen. For reasons, he’s sadly out of the show after the first episode and we are left to follow some of the other children, Eduard and Maria. The next episodes mostly focus on them as they grow up, get married and start families. It’s all an interesting little slice of life show up to that point. The characters are somewhat deep, but because it’s such a large cast you don’t get to know anyone too intimately. Overall though, it’s enough to keep me engaged.
In episodes 2 and 3 we really get into WWII and the rise of Hitler and that’s where things get… interesting. So Hitler really starts out as a whisper on the streets then as times goes on he gains more of a following and eventually he’s revered. He’s both revered and feared at the same time by the people. They revere him because they really believe that he will improve their lives. After WWI things weren’t looking so good for the every day man, but Hitler made and delivered on a lot of his promises to improve every day life. Business was booming and people could afford nicer and nicer things. But as the saying goes, nothing good in life is ever free. The people also fear him, no matter where in the country you are. The mother of the family wanted to go visit her brother on his birthday which also happened to be the same day as Hitler’s. She says that she’s going because she loves her brother more than Hitler and is told not to say it out loud like something could happen to her if anyone hears. At first it seems silly… then when more and more military are in the village and kids are joining the Hitler Youth, you start to realize he really does have ears everywhere. There’s part of the population that believed in what he was doing, and there was part that didn’t but feared speaking out.
That’s how it was portrayed in the show at least… Part of me is thinking this is a German made movie and there’s a chance they’re trying to make themselves look better for what happened during WWII. I don’t want to believe what I’m seeing because there has to be some bias in it, but part of me thinks there is a lot of truth in it as well. It makes me uncomfortable to even try and empathize with people in a country that did such disgusting things, but not everyone agreed with what was happening and if you spoke out you’d probably end up dead. It’s definitely weird watching a show where you’re shown things that make you empathize with the characters, but mentally and historically you feel like you shouldn’t. It makes me think back to Judgment at Nuremberg where some German’s spoke about why they did such awful things. They talked a lot about doing it for their country, like it was a matter of national pride… not exactly that they wholeheartedly believed in what they were doing. It’s pretty dark and heavy to think about, but this show really takes you there for better or worse.
On that note, I’m going to leave it here right at the beginning of WWII. So far this has been an interesting show and a thousand times less painful to watch than In Praise of Love. I can’t give my thoughts on the whole series yet, but I’m liking the first 3 episodes and I have a few more queued up. Next, though, I’ll be covering the next movie on the list, #993 They Live. See you then!
Interim Verdict: 7.8/10