Would you like to know what it was like to have lived behind the Berlin Wall? If you want to experience a film version of East Germany, you could watch one of these movies:
Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, Torn Curtain (Der zerrissene Vorhang) from 1966. Julie Andrews & Paul Newman are the stars. Can you imagine Mary Poppins behind the Iron Curtain? Just kidding. Andrews plays a very normal sort of woman whose professor boyfriend (Newman) defects to East Germany. Very interesting…
Night Crossing (Mit dem Wind nach Westen), a Disney movie from 1982 based on a true story of two families secretly making a hot air balloon to cross the forbidden border. I mistakenly thought that, because it was a Disney movie from the early ’80s, it would be appropriate for children. Well, it wasn’t bad, but there are a few scenes which were too intense for our TV-less 7- and 9-year-old girls. Still, we felt like this movie was a good introduction to a major part of the not-so-distance history of the area in which we now live. (If I remember correctly, the actual balloon is now on display at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie Museum.)
Definitely NOT for children is Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others). An excellent, Oscar-winning, German movie from 2006, it is nonetheless really rough to watch and is only for “mature” audiences. This movie gives one a very good idea about how things were in the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republic; GDR: German Democratic Republic) where no one, not even one’s own spouse or child, could be trusted. Spies, distrust, power play, secrets…not for the faint of heart.
Good Bye Lenin! (2003) is a comedic look at the dramatic events surrounding the end of the GDR. Recommended, although not for children.
Mrs. Ratcliffe’s Revolution: a British comedy drama from 2007, and Sonnenallee: a German comedy drama from 1999. I would not rate these films as highly as the above-mentioned, but they still provide interesting perspectives. Again, not for the kiddos.
This morning our church service was a time of thanksgiving and rememberance. We celebrated the fact that 25 years ago on this day the Berlin Wall “fell”. I was only 13, an ignorant American “middle schooler” at the time, so I had nothing to add to the memory sharing. On the 9th of November, 1989, I think I watched the news; I have vague memories of Reagan, Gorbachev, the Brandenburg Gate, the masses of people at the wall…, but it was not something that impacted me personally. Then.
Today, however, living in the former East Germany (GDR/DDR), I am extremely thankful for the peaceful revolution that took place 25 years ago. I am thankful for the many Christians and churches in East Germany who prayed and peacefully demonstrated. I am thankful that God answered their prayers. (You can read about some of those stories in Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace.) I am thankful that my husband, who grew up so close to the Berlin Wall that he often had tanks from the American Sector driving down the street in front of his house, did not have to fear for long when the uncertain news arrived that the Wall was open. It was indeed a peaceful event.
This morning, we sat in the sanctuary together–former East Germans, former West Germans, Polish and American citizens–all current residents of the former DDR/GDR, worshipping ONE God in a unified country. Thanks be to God! No, I did not experience living in East Germany, behind a guarded border, trapped by my own country. But now, living among those who did, I celebrate with them the freedom and peace that began 25 years ago today.