Tuesday, September 25, 2012


By D.E.Levine


Director Christian Petzold presents a remarkable story set in 1960 in Eastern Germany, still under communist rule, where a doctor from Berlin (Nina Hoss) has committed some transgression so severe that she is banished to the boonies.

Although she works in a hospital and seemingly does nothing revolutionary, she is harassed by the secret police, subjected to body and home searches, and she is silently waiting and burning.

Barbara is a dissident who pushes back against totalitarianism.  She's also somewhat paranoid, but with good reason since from the moment she arrives in her remote village she is being watched by another East German.

Her watcher is another young doctor, Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld) who discusses her with Klaus Schutz (Rainer Bock), a very official and distant character who works for the Stasi or secret police.

Barbara is wary and cautious as she moves between Andre, who has a warm personality, and Klaus, who regularly searches her apartment and frightens her.

Drawn into the life of Stella (Jasna Fritzi Bauer), a runaway from a work camp who lands in the hospital, Barbara also goes to extreme measures to meet with her lover Jorg (Mark Wasche).  Somehow, despite the restraints of her bring banned to a rural area, the constant monitoring of her actions and phone calls, Barbara actually manages to lead her life and plan her escape.

It's only when we understand what actually makes Barbara tick that we can understand the unexpected ending to the film.