Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rosenstrasse (2003)

This movie is in German with English subtitles. Both Jon and I speak German (or at least I did at one time), and as we started watching, Jon said, all exasperated, "Can't we turn off the subtitles?" I didn't want to, because my German's not what it used to be, and even back then, my vocabulary wasn't very good. Jon's German has always been excellent, though, and I didn't want to be a wimp, so we turned them off. I'm a little proud of myself that I understood most of the movie. In fact, after getting into the German groove, most of it was pretty easy to follow. From now on, I'll be more brave about watching German stuff without subtitles.

Okay. Sorry about that aside. Rosenstrasse is a street in Berlin where, in 1943, thousands of German women held a spontaneous and peaceful protest. For a week, these women gathered outside the building where their Jewish husbands were being held by the Nazis. Apparently, the German officials who had rounded up these men were trying to make it look like they were just going to labor camps, not to the concentration camps where the rest of the Jews went. According to the wikipedia article, it was the only public protest in Germany during the Third Reich, and it worked. Almost all of the men were released. I guess the Nazis weren't quite evil enough to shoot down their own German women.

This film tells the story of one of those German women. The narrative was a little strange at first--the film opens in present-day New York with a Jewish family, then follows the daughter as she looks into her mother's past--but by the end, the intertwining stories had all become interesting and important. It's a fairly long movie (136 minutes, I think), but Jon thought it could have been longer and developed some of the stories even more.

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