The CoR's Get Rich (But Not Quickly, and You'll Have to Work for It, too) Scheme

Film week post #3

There even is a word for it in German: Ostalgie, a blend of Ost (east) and Nostalgie (nostalgia), denoting the sentiment that somehow everything was better back then, when the party told us what to think. It has ebbed off now, but during the late 1990s/early 2000s, there was an outright mainstream fashion surrounding that view. I'm talking saturday night entertainment shows revolving around the eastern-style Ampelmännchen and Rotkäppchen sparkling. (Ironically enough, the GDR-style Ampelmännchen is alive and well in the eastern parts of Germany, as are those traditional east German products people really want. The latter is due to a thing we have called supply and demand.)

This trend didn't go down well with everybody. Some pointed out that, after all, the GDR had been a dictatorship, with well one hundred thousand people employed by the secret police. One commenter remarked that he was looking forward for the TV shows on how swell life was in the Third Reich.

The 1999 comedy Sonnenallee was sometimes seen as a part of the ostalgie fad. From Wikipedia's plot synopsis:
Michael (or 'Micha') is a 17-year-old growing up in communist East Germany (GDR) in the 1970s. He spends his time with his friends listening to banned pop music, partying and trying to win over the heart of Miriam, who is dating a West Berlin boy. Over the course of the movie his best friend Mario, falls for an existentialist, gets kicked out of school and subsequently discovers he is going to be a father. The closing of the movie upsets Micha's thus far idealistic life, as Mario sells out his ideals by signing up for military service to support his girlfriend and the child.
Sonnenallee and Goodbye Lenin, another lighthearted GDR-themed comedy, were criticized for being part of the retrospective glorification of the east German dictatorship, and when Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) was released, many breathed a sigh of relief: The movie, which chronicles secret police employee Gerd Wiesler's second thoughts about the morality of his actions while surveilling a playwright, finally displayed the GDR's ugly side.

But what's wrong with Sonnenallee? Did youths in east Germany have friends? Check. Were they into pop music? Check. Did they fall in love? Check. Did some get kicked out of school? Check. Did some of them become fathers at an early age? Check. The most inaccurate bit about the film is probably the Sonnenallee street's architecture. Why not set a film in a dictatorship but focus on aspects of life other than state oppression?

But I say let's go all the way with this: Let's have a film set in, say, 1935, in which the atrocities of the Hitler regime don't feature. I'm not being sarcastic here. Did youths in Hitler's Germany have friends? Check. Were they into pop music? Check (although they didn't call it pop music back then). Did they fall in love? Check. Did some get kicked out of school? Check. Did some of them become fathers at an early age? Check. If, for convenience's sake, you'd set it in a place where there are no Jews in the first place (rural Bavaria?), you should be able to make a nice coming-of-age comedy without ever lying about life in the Third Reich.

I mean, there's no such thing as bad publicity, is there? And boy, would you stir up a controversy! I'm talking prime time discussion rounds with pundits, film critics and professors of history. Cover stories in Spiegel and Stern. And as a minority but sizeable portion of the German populace likes getting information before forming an opinion, you'd almost be guaranteed a million viewers, even if your film is crap.

When the dosh is in, contact me by mail for bank details.

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