Last night, as we were poring over recent foreign releases on Netflix Instant Play our eyes fell on the German film A Woman in Berlin.
Based on the eponymous book by an anonymous woman diarist, the movie is set in Berlin at the end of World War II.
What was touted as The Thousand Year Reich lay in ruins and in extremis after a mere dozen years.
Under constant bombing and shelling, a lot of Berlin was reduced to rubble.
With little food and no money, the surviving Berliners, proud racist Aryan acolytes of Der Führer not too long ago, are reduced to a wretched state.
Nasty and Brutish
And Stalin’s victorious and tired Red Army, comprised like most armies of the nasty, oafish and brutish elements, marches into Berlin setting the stage for this movie.
As even the schmuck students of history or human nature know, to the victors go the spoils of war.
Including, of course, the women.
So to the vocabulary of Berlin women’s precarious existence is added a new word and ordeal – Rape.
Endless rape by the coarse, wild, beastly elements of the Red Army.
Into the dark alleys, into the bombed-out crumbling apartments and into the dirty cellars, German women of all ages are dragged by the strong arms of their Russian captors.
To experience the ultimate defilement.
Our anonymous young woman of this film is one of countless such victims in Berlin. She is also the narrator of this story.
Playing the young woman, also a diarist, with extraordinary verve and brilliance is German actress Nina Hoss.
In all her phases in the movie – pre-rape, post-rape, mistress of the Red Army Major to whom she turns for protection from the barbarian soldiers and finally the post-Major phase, Nina Hoss is a study in fine acting.
It’s one of life’s many injustices that the word actress is equally applied to Nina Hoss and to Bollywood vamps like Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Trisha Krishnan, Nayantara and others of their ilk. 🙁
But to focus exclusively on Nina Hoss is to slight all the others that are a part of this wonderful movie.
Foremost among the others is Russian actor Yevgeni Sidikhin who plays the Red Army Major Andrei Rybkin.
Even those with lesser roles, like the landlady, the Mongol soldier, the Red Army officer from the Caucasus and so many others, have done their parts well.
The photography is solid leaving with you a verisimilitude of what Berlin probably looked like in the dark days of April and May in 1945.
The story is novel, driving home the message that War’s depredations reach beyond the fighters and their bayonets and guns on the battlefield, scarring and searing and bloodying so many other human souls and the different paths such endangered souls take for their survival.
Shame be damned.
At two-hours and seven-minutes, the movie may seem a trifle long but your patience is amply, and in full measure, rewarded.
SearchIndia.com recommends A Woman in Berlin.
If you live in the U.S., you can rent the A Woman in Berlin in DVD format from Netflix or stream it via Roku or another Netflix compatible box.
As for y’all in India, you Chutiyas have always been clever and adept at purloining others’ stuff, haven’t you. 😉
By the way, the movie comes with subtitles in English.