Thursday, September 23, 2021
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“3 1/2 hours” –

On the day the Wall was built in 1961, a train left Munich for Berlin and the passengers had to decide whether to get off. The result was a very emotional film.


Actors: Jeff Wilbusch, Alli Neumann, Jan Krauter, Susanne Bormann, Martin Feifel, Moritz Katzmair, Jördis Triebel, Hannah Schiller, Johannes Meister
Music: Stefan Will
Camera: Ngo The Chau
Script: Robert Krause and Beate Fraunholz
Director: Ed Herzog

The train doesn’t go anywhere, and certainly not to freedom. It travels from Munich Central Station to Berlin on August 13, 1961 ?? the day on which Walter Ulbricht seals off the GDR with a wall. When the transistor radios got back on the air again, the passengers heard about it while they were only a few kilometers outside the Bavarian capital, relationships were put to the test:

For example that of the Kügler family. Gerd (Jan Krauter) and Marlis (Susanne Bormann) are parents of two lovely children and basically staunch supporters of the socialist idea. In the West, where rents and food cost a fortune compared to East German prices, freedom does not wait, they both believe, and yet they are realistic enough to recognize that the GDR is not a country where milk and honey flow. Gerd’s career as a highly qualified aircraft manufacturer is on hold because agricultural machinery has priority in the current five-year plan ?? and despite the ideological affirmation of socialism, a job offer with a Munich aviation company is extremely tempting; especially as a perspective for the highly intelligent daughter who wants to become a pioneer of the skies one day.

The ?? anti-fascist protective wall ?? to the acid test: Two of the four musicians are gay? and while they do not have to hide their homosexuality to the utmost in the sexually comparatively liberal society of the GDR, they would face imprisonment in the FRG. But the dreams of London, Paris and New York would be gone once and for all if they didn’t get off the train at the Saxon border at the latest.

Meanwhile, another band member happened to meet an old friend in a gloomy train compartment: the older man avoided his gaze, but he only had to look at the young musician’s wooden leg to immediately think back to his time as a train driver when he drove cattle wagons to Auschwitz drove.

In order not only to tell a hodgepodge of personal breaches of the political explosiveness of the day the Wall was built, but also to establish a common thread, two Munich police officers are on board who are investigating a murder case: somewhere on the train there are explosive goods on the three people died in Bavaria.

Attention to the big political in the ?? small ?? Telling personal stories is something that many television films that are obsessed with Nazism and the GDR dictatorship have already lost their way. Fortunately, this film on the 60th anniversary of the building of the Wall is different and relies on its emotionally charged motifs and also pursues very beautiful, wistful, thoughtful images: For example, when the family quarrel about the Kügler family was not resolved by the endless debates between the parents but the pragmatism of children. Or when a young train driver smells the scent of freedom and never wants to be without it again. Or when young musicians’ dreams of the big wide world are stronger than any sense of home. Anyone who gets involved in this film and the emotional world of its characters sees all the historical tragedy of this fateful day in midsummer 1961 again from a different, because much more personal light ?? and will be much more grateful than ever for a Europe without borders.

The first runs “3½ hours” on Saturday, August 7th at 8:15 pm.



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