Tonight we planned to go and see some local short films at the small arts cinema a hundred metres down the road. And despite us going there really early – like half an hour before it started rather than the three minutes we usually give ourselves – all the tickets were sold old when we arrived. All those other bastards had actually booked tickets in advance. So we decided to add another hundred metres to our walk to go to the next cinema and see a film there. Unlike the arts cinema which is notoriously uncomfortable, that one is a real and big cinema with comfy seats and everything. They’ve been bought by a big bastard cinema chain a while ago now, and screen the less popular films for them now.
We decided to see the new German film Am Tag als Bobby Ewing starb – The day that Bobby Ewing died. It is about a group of hippie-esque people in the mid 1980s who live in the countryside and protest – peacefully – against a nuclear power plant that is being built. And they fill the stereotype quite nicely, being eco-freaks, doing naked bathing in their garden, driving old broken cars, having endless discussions…
One day Hanne and her son Niels arrive at their house from Bremen because of problems with Hanne’s husband. And while Hanne stars feeling comfortable with the group and particularly with her old friend Peter rather quickly. Her teenage son find this harder – no wonder with all those geeky old people around him. And while he’s still against the power plant, he makes friends with some of the locals and falls in love with the mayor’s daughter.
Despite everything being ecological and otherwise politically correct at the house, a couple of people there still enjoy watching the ‘imperialist’ TV series Dallas. And it came as a shock to them that Bobby Ewing dies one day. But the rather bigger shock comes five minutes later when the news are on and the catastrophe at Chernobyl is announced. That fills everyone with shock and really tumbles things around a bit.
What’s quite good about the film is that it manages to portray their living ‘project’ quite neutrally. You can see how the people living there do it far good reasons and a good cause. But you can also see how it is perfectly absurd (like in a scene where they protest against a delivery to the nuclear power plant by sitting in fron of the gates and singing songs… until the police arrive an tell them ‘we just let the trucks in through the back entrance – but feel free to keep on singing’) and how each of the characters has a lot of strange problems and habits. You also see the difficult relation between those people and the local community in the countryside. They’re mostly conservative, so generally against hippie-type people and for a police state. But at the same time they’re uncomfortable of having a nuclear power plant right next to where they are living.
All this is more interesting as the nuclear power plant in question, Brokdorf, does exist and went into operation shortly after Chernobyl. Protests there did happen and were on TV. And they are recent enough for me to remember them. Which makes the film more relevant for me.
And a final point for liking the film is that it is in northern Germany. And I’m from Bremen in northern Germany as well. People there are a bit different than the ‘typical’ Germans from Bavaria, Cologne or Berlin which seem to be the only ones you see on telly.
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