Germany’s “Barbara” Is Easily One Of Last Year’s Best – A Movie Review

Barbara (Nina Hoss) is a doctor and a dissident in red East Germany (the year: 1980), and she hopes to flee over the waves of the sea to the Free World.  The Stasi has persecuted and is watching her, but consistently fails to keep her from meeting with her West German boyfriend, the facilitator of her future escape.  Barbara works at a pediatric hospital, where she gets to know a competent and likable physician called Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld), utilized up to a point by the Stasi.  Will she or won’t she become attracted to him?  Whatever the case, Barbara does become attracted to what is an important plot element in the 2012 Barbara:  the making of a major sacrifice for the good of another.

Smartly written and directed by Christian Petzold, Barbara, from Germany, is grave, uncompromising and absorbing.  An oppressive government is constantly suspect.  Such a film always warns us that communism is totalitarianism, communism is fascism, communism is not worth having as a political system.  However, the movie never oversimplifies:  Reds and non-Reds and anti-Reds are complex and even sympathetic.  But humanistically anti-Red is what Barbara is.  A girl is said to be incarcerated in “a Socialist extermination camp.”  Barbara tells her boyfriend he would never be happy living in East Germany.  Thus I say again the film is uncompromising, and one I must add to my best-of list for 2012.

If it isn’t playing in your city, you can probably Netflix it before long.

(In German with English subtitles)

German actress Nina Hoss, member of the intern...

German actress Nina Hoss, member of the international jury of the Berlin Film Festival 2011, arriving at the premiere of True Grit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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