A lesson in German via foreign film

On day 4, the Greene Team ventured down the Staller steps to the theater to enjoy the Film Festival. The festival was something I always wanted to experience, but never had since I live on the East End. 

I chose not to read a preview summary of the film, but I had heard rumors it was in German. I want to clarify, I don’t speak a syllable German. But when the opening credits rolled I grew super excited. The film took place in East Germany in 1956, and as I read these words my inner history nerd went wild. 

I haven’t watched much foreign film, but I love experiencing different cultures and time period in such an authentic way. 

The Silent Revolution was based on a true story about a group of teenagers in East Germany, only 5 years before the Berlin Wall was constructed. The group begins sneaking away to listening to RIAS, a radio station from the West. 

In support of the Hungarian Revolution, the class votes to take a moment of silence during their history class. The small revolution leads to days of fear and frustration as the class grapples with the decision to tell the truth or hide behind a lie. The decision splits friends and lovers, as those who need their diploma to escape a life of poverty long to lie and others want to show support to the Hungarians. The film ended with the class being expelled and forced to move to West Germany to get their high school diploma.

I enjoyed the parallels in the film with the traditional teenage coming-of-age movie. There was the ecstatic dancing of “Ferris Bueller,” the angst and division of “The Breakfast Club” and the simple yet complex 1950s postwar life of “Rebel Without a Cause.” I related to a lot because of my age: Do you conform with your class or break away to create your own path? 

The experience was amazing and while I originally feared understanding the movie because of the language barrier, reading the subtitles became second nature. I enjoyed the experience so much because of my love of history and the amazing plot line. 

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