Germany, Pale Mother (1980)
Directed by Helma Sanders-Brahms
Set during the Third Reich and its aftermath, this lyrical, harrowing tale of love and war is a neglected classic of New German cinema. Hans and Lene scarcely have time to meet and marry before Hans is sent away to fight, leaving Lene to give birth during an air raid and struggle through the war with a baby daughter. Based on director and writer Helma Sanders-Brahms’ mother’s experience, the film explores the devastating impact of politics of family life.
Eva Mates (Lene) gives a brilliant, fearless performance, with the film casting a powerful emotional spell which is intensified by a delicate, plaintive piano score. German critics savaged the film at its premiere, baulking at its ‘subjective’ female take on recent history. Cut by 30 minutes for cinema release, only now has it been restored to its impressive original form and available for home viewing.
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