Quarter Life Crisis

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Solino

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Reading the comments I get on these pages is mainly depressing. And that’s after deleting those which are spam. Unfortunately the most popular posts I ever wrote are an ultra short note on the essence of religions and a joke on making viruses. Both these posts have developed a veritable ‘culture’ of discussion and freaks who visit them. Just after reaching their first goal of missing the point, they’re off to insult each other. In a very sad way this is funny. But it’s not exactly what I had ever hoped to be popular for – not that what I wrote matters much on those pages today, it just seems that I must have quite a good position on search engines for queries like ‘make your own virus’.

Luckily there are a few posts which have also caused truely interesting comments and discussions (not to forget the posts which get one or two helpful comments by regular readers – thanks for that!), and the post on the German film Gegen die Wand is one of them. Reading those comments, I came across a recommendation to see Solino, an earlier film by Fatih Akin which also deals with the topic of being an emigrant/immigrant.

We start with an Italian family living in Solino in the 1960s. There isn’t enough work and they, the parents and their two kids Gigi and Giancarlo, decide to move to Germany where they have enough work (a bitter contrast to these days, I might add). The kids like the idea of going to Germany because there could be snow. Gigi even has to promis a friend to send her some. Their start in Germany isn’t too good. The flat they rent isn’t exactly nice and the father thinks his job in a coalmine is too dirty. But soon the mother has the idea to open a restaurant in the empty store across the road. Opening a restaurant goes like this:

She: Romano!
He: What’s up?
She: Down there you can rent a restaurant.
He: So what. What do you want to do? Do you want to open a shop?
She: Franco doesn’t have a wife – huh? And most other Italians don’t have a wife either.
He: I understand… you want to open a brothel.
She: No, they don’t have anybody who cooks for them and they’d be happy if they could eat just like at home…
Three Versions of Gigi in the film Their restaurant is called Solino and after a while it is running well. Gigi also gets to know the guy in the photo store next door who lets him have a camera to take photos of snow with. And Gigi really likes having a camera. Similarly he enjoys when a film crew eats at their restaurant and he can speak to the director who tells him to live your life with fire and passion. A goal which Gigi won’t forget – and which makes him want to make films as well.

Time goes by, the kids grow up and want to do their own stuff, not just work in their parents’ restaurant. They move out and Gigi finally gets make his first film – thanks again to the generosity of the photo store’s owner. He even submits the film to a competition but he can’t attend the ceremonies because he has to be back in Italy with his mother who had become seriously ill and wanted to return and because his brother didn’t come to take care so he could attend the film festival. His film even wins the festival and Giancarlo goes to take Gigi’s fame and girlfriend. Finally Gigi decides to settle down in Solino and leave Germany behind.

Which in fact is a whole sub-plot in the film – Giancarlo constantly disappoints and betrays his more talented brother. But Gigi keeps forgiving him. So while the film’s setting may be vaguely similar to Gegen die Wand’s, I think the film is quite different as it doesn’t stick that closely to the problems that may come with cultural differences. Other topics, such as the love for photography and film and the pursuit of those, benevolence and magnanimity are very important as well. And all together this makes Solino a more pleasing, less realistic and equally good film in comparison to Gegen die Wand.

P.S. It also reminded me of Cinema Paradiso.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

June 24, 2005, 0:26

Tagged as lang:de.

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