ulrich-noethen

99 Luftballons

Would you be prepared to die for your country? This question gets asked over and over again on Deutschland 83, a German miniseries co-produced by RTL Television and SundanceTV. Like every other spy show, this one too is full of twists, deceit, fake identities, betrayal, self-sacrifice and violence.

Many compare it to The Americans, because both are set in the 1980s. However, Deutschland 83 looks more genuine. Clothes, cars, architecture, interiors, furniture, even haircuts – every single thing screams of the ‘80s. That being said, the authentic feel is in the most part helped by the locations; the filming took place on real streets, in real houses, and not on custom-made sets. The other crucial element is the music; it successfully sets the atmosphere in mere seconds. For example, 99 Luftballons by Nena, a song that plays in the background throughout the first episode, immensely contributes to an excellent introduction, and sets a trend for the remainder of the series.

Martin (played by Jonas Nay) gets his groove on in episode 4.

But Deutschland 83 doesn’t feel special only because of its period-appropriateness. It differentiates itself from other spy shows by its main character, too. Martin Rauch is a twenty-something East German army officer that one day gets recruited by special intelligence and gets transferred to West Germany to infiltrate the armed forces there.

Martin’s situation is not just another case of spy shenanigans, though. All the issues and inner conflicts that are usually explored by the spy genre are actually interesting in this case, because Martin lives in, and is shaped by, a place that represents one half of an artificially divided country with a really complicated history. It’s fascinating to watch this series with that context in mind.

One of the most poignant scenes in the series. Martin’s boss from West Germany, General Edel (played by Ulrich Noethen), having a heated argument with his son, Alex Edel (played by Ludwig Trepte).

The differences between East and West Germany cannot go unnoticed in Deutschland 83 – the first one bans western products and books, while the second one (clearly) doesn’t. However, both sides seek to maintain peace in their own way, and both sides would do everything for the so-called “greater good”, including sacrificing innocent people.

Therefore, the biggest question of this series shouldn’t be Would you be prepared to die for your country?, but rather Would your country let you die for its benefit?, and it should be rhetorical. Because no matter who you are or where you’re from, the answer is unfortunately always yes.

Happy watching!

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Jonathan wanted to watch this movie with me for ages and now we finally did it!

it is a german movie, shot in black and white from 2012.
there is no real story, but it kind of shows one day and one night of a young man, called Niko, who abandons his law studies. he doesn’t really have luck on that day, like he can’t get a coffie the whole day, because nothing went right for him. the coffie thing made me giggle several times. all in all it’s made a bit funny, since it’s a tragic comedy.